Posted by: Postordinandy | April 22, 2010

Growing fruit

We’re going to spend the next few weeks or so looking at the fruit of the spirit, as described in Galatians 5.

The writer of Galatians highlights the differences between a life lived for God, and where a life without him might lead us. It is not that all non-Christians lead lives that are dominated by the characteristics in verses 19-21, nor could it be true to say that Christians have the attributes of verses 22 and 23 down pat. But the writer suggests that a life with God, responding to his leading, should steer us away with the former, and increase displays of the latter.

The use of ‘fruit’ as a metaphor for these new characteristics is a helpful one:

  • Fruit is good for us.
  • Fruit is attractive, and pleasant.
  • Fruit takes time, hard work, perseverance and the right conditions to grow properly.
  • Fruit has within it the potential and necessary resources to reproduce itself.

Fruit is good for us, but not always initially the most attractive option. Faced with a straight choice between a jam doughnut and an apple, I’d be licking the sugar off my lips before you could say “try the healthier option” 9 times out of 10. Children instinctively, if given the freedom, would eat sweets or biscuits rather than fruit – and it can take time to educate them about the long-term effects of an unhealthy diet. Making the healthier, better, choice can become habitual as we see and understand the benefits of it over time. We may try to eat our ‘5 a day’ initially perhaps as an act of obedience or rule-following, but in time it can become something that we want to do – that we enjoy; even something that we encourage others to also engage in.

Growing fruit takes time and skill. Good grapes grow if they are grafted to a successful vine – left on their own they will shrivel and die quickly. As Christians we understand Jesus to be the vine, and us the branches from which the fruit can grow safely and healthily.

Fruit serves a higher purpose – the replication and growth of the mother vine. The sweet flesh contains seeds that contain within them the potential of another vine. The parallel should be obvious for those of us who claim to follow the True Vine – as we ourselves grow into the likeness and goodness of Christ, so others will want to share in the taste of the good fruit and in turn produce it themselves.

It has often been noted that fruit is used in the singular – think of segments of the same orange, or grapes in a bunch, rather than a dish of fruit salad. This may or may not be overly significant, although it can be helpful if we use that fact to remind ourselves that the 9 characteristics listed: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control; are products of the same source, and not mutually dependent of each other. Personally, if I need a visual metaphor I go for the bunch of grapes, as this allows me room to reflect on the fact that some of the characteristics are less developed in my own life than others – like smaller grapes nestled next to the larger ones, (or perhaps even rotten ones next to healthy ones).

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  1. […] simple really. We continue our examination of the fruit of the spirit with the fruit of […]


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