Published on August 8th, 2019 | by Nina Pulley
[Reflection] Fruits of the Spirit
As a kid, whenever I heard people talking about the fruits of the Spirit or just spiritual fruit in general, I was quickly confused by the wording. This was especially so because it was English, where so little of the original product of other languages is transferred. Fruit? Of the Spirit? Like oranges or apples? What does that have to do with who I am and what I do? Even though I tried to understand, it just didn’t translate.
People at church (or in life) talk about fruit as the result of actions and attitudes taken over time, but my mind struggled to fit in the concept with the natural way I understood the food. The associations I had with fruit were decidedly rooted in a sensorial notion; to me, and perhaps many, they were tasty snacks or desserts, filled with seeds, red, orange, or green juice and always a desire for more. It has taken me years to understand, but I’m starting to get a grip of it. If we think of ourselves as trees, seedlings, or saplings growing from the soil in which we’re planted, we take in all the nutrients – or lack thereof – and burst through the surface, having our first taste of sunlight, rain, and all of the elements that we are exposed to once we are born.
The second phase of our lives is incredibly crucial to our success as plants (work figuratively with me here) as we draw nutrients from the ground around us, much of our lives growing similarly to how the plants around us do, shaped by a common environment: weather patterns, soil, and care. Some of us may live while others face catastrophe. Regardless, we are all seeds that have been given a chance to live, as many seeds never make it. Jesus says, “I am the vine, and ye are the branches,” meaning that without Him, we can do nothing. Without being connected to our source – without our home plant – the worst is waiting for us.
So what does it mean to generate spiritual fruit? The fruit of something is what is shown for the work that has been done. It is the composite of nature and nurture, care and attention, nutrients and feed; it is the characteristic feature of a plant. An orange tree is not called a tree with oranges on it. Nor is a fig tree called a grapevine. A plant is called for what it is. What you produce is what you become known for, and so is the fruit of a plant that feeds, nurtures, or poisons the ones that come to it. This is why the fruit of the Spirit are so encouraging as to what they are. They are the product of hard work, struggle, and the evidence of a Spirit or presence greater than ourselves: benevolent, holy, and wanting the best for us. The fruits of the spirit are bound to the work of the individual; you cannot have the fruits of the Spirit without there being work, action, or effort in place. Here, the Spirit means the Lord, God Almighty, the Holy One, the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all one yet distinct in their identities. Here, we see what the fruits of the Spirit are and how they are just as much a gift as they are evidence of love.
Love is caring for one another. Being willing to share what you have with someone who does not. Being there for someone just because you want to be, and even when you’re tired. Love, honestly, is being willing to give your life for another person.
It’s laughter. It’s smiling. It’s being happy for every reason and no reason at all. It’s feeling the wind in your hair as you walk down the street or ride a bicycle. It is children laughing at the park. It is seeing your favorite cousin after four long years. It is the silliness of a child and the feeling we get when we hug our favorite person.
It is the calm that descends upon us at the end of a long day. The feeling of being connected to the stars as you lay your head down to sleep. It is the feeling of everything being alright. It is the feeling of your child sleeping in your arms, or you sleeping in the arms of a loved one.
It is when a child gets frustrated, love and the knowledge that they will learn with time surges within. It is the knowledge that impatient comments also come with their own baggage, and there is always more than meets the eye.
It is remembering that we are all one of a kind, a part of the human family. It is remembering that someone’s relative might have died today. It is remembering that you don’t need to get on the bus before that other person. It is sharing a piece of your food with someone else because you know and feel their hunger, too.
It is the light that you let in. It is the love you feel, unrestricted and unjudged. It is knowing that you are no better or worse (inherently) than the other person. It is the willingness to do something good for another person. It is humility and strength.
It is the will to do it again and again, even when you get no reward. It is returning in the morning to that job. It is the commitment you have, wholeheartedly, to the person you married. It is the goodness God shows us each and every single morning sunrise.
It is the care you take in how you care for someone. It is subtle, yet so important. It is the carefulness you take to be there for someone. It is attentive and it is sensitive. It is putting not one’s own needs before another’s, but watching, being aware, of the impact of the force that we use in daily life. It is kindness and tenderness combined.
It is choosing not to go downstairs and eat more because you know you’re not really hungry anymore. It is not eating that chocolate chip cookie although you could. It is refraining from doing anything that might set you back on your course. It is the awareness and presence of mind we have in choosing one option over another.
They’re all the same: different aspects but the same essence. The fruit of the Spirit are expressions of the truth, holiness, and greatness all at the same time. Just as a banana, apple, and orange differ, they somehow all resonate as fruit, and so it is in the Spirit. The fruit are honorable as they are humble, peaceful as they celebrate, echoing in song.