Posted by: Postordinandy | July 16, 2010

Progressive fruit production?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23)

We have come to the end of our time looking at the Fruit of the Spirit. Hopefully, we have discovered some new stuff to engage with, been challenged to re-engage with some principles to a greater depth, and been encouraged to increase the evidence of each attribute of the fruit in both quantity and quality.

Here is one last thought about the list that Paul created all that time ago: perhaps the order in which the individual attributes are listed is pretty significant?

This is not to suggest that Paul made a purely progressive list – stages which need to be achieved before one can advance to the next level, like a computer game, or a recipe:

  1. Spend some time learning to love more.
  2. Once you have mastered this basic level, advance to the next one – put a little joy in your heart!
  3. Mix together an equal amount of love and joy, wrap in a damp cloth and leave in a warm place overnight, then you can start to engage with some peace…

No, it is clear that each attribute cannot stand alone, is not independent of each other. Even so, on a number of occasions over the past few months it has struck us that having a measure of the attribute mentioned immediately before will help us to nurture each successive one. This is not a strictly linear relationship, each of us has a natural, God-given ability to grow and display any of the fruit, and instinctively understands some more than others.

So, the Spirit gives us all we have, even love. Without a measure of love, it is hard to be truly joyful. Loving joy provides a fertile soil for peace to flourish. And so on.

There may be nothing in this, of course. It is certainly true that each attribute feeds into others, contributing skills, experience, tendency, space… for the others to be embraced and practised more firmly. The important thing is undoubtedly to remember the source of each, and to allow the Spirit to work in our lives to create a nicely balanced, productive and attractive branch of the vine, wherever we are and with whomever we find ourselves.

Fruit of the Spirit T-Shirt, available from Zazzle.co.uk

As Christians, we know God to be one who demonstrates each of the fruit impeccably, so – ultimately – to grow in the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit is to grow into the likeness of the source of all things Himself.

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