It's an interesting thing that when God wants to get our attention about something, he seems to use multiple sources in our life to do it.
We've recently been talking about the fruit of the Spirit - God's Spirit, fruit listed in Galatians 5:22 as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control - because of Abigail's entry into our life. We've noticed that there are some fruits that are less apparent in our home than others. I told Ben that I don't like the lack of patience I'm discovering in myself and Ben says he's also noticed a problem with murmuring, which is a lack of faithfulness.
While we've been discussing this, the pastor at the church we attend began basing his sermon each week on a characteristic of this fruit of the Spirit; and when we went to visit some good friends last night and had a discussion about the Bible, we again discussed the fruit of the Spirit.
Only last night we got a different perspective.
I have been disturbed by the lacking fruit because I always understood the "fruit of the Spirit" to be evidence of the presence of that Spirit in me; and if the evidence is lacking, then perhaps the Spirit is also. However, yesterday we were introduced to the perspective that the Holy Spirit - God's Spirit - is like a sapling fruit tree. The tree itself is capable of bearing fruit, but as a sapling it needs constant care and attention to grow big and strong and produce a full harvest of good fruit. As with untended fruit trees, the Spirit is capable of bearing fruit even if not very well tended...but it will be small, warped, wormy fruit rather than the bushels of prime apples God's looking for.
As our Creator, God has always been interested in fruit - in the good increase of what he's made. It seems to have been a primary purpose in creating our world in the first place because Genesis keeps pointing out how God made everything living capable of multiplying itself. At our wedding we chose to read Jesus' parable of the men who were given different amounts of treasure by the king who expected them to make it increase. We chose it because we saw ourselves - Ben in particular - as being entrusted with a family for the purpose of making it increase in Godly fruit. Godly fruit includes children, but it is also the fruit of the Spirit. We've discussed for a long time how God's first commandments were actually to "be fruitful" AND "to multiply": two separate but related commands. If God's Spirit just naturally produced the full harvest of fruit he wanted without any tending on our part, then it would be an odd thing that he commanded us to be fruitful. A command indicates there's something we're expected to do, not just sit back and let happen. We're expected to tend to our spirits in such a way that our production of God's fruit increases constantly and we don't let any little mildews or bugs or lack of fertile soil warp or damage that fruit.
Abigail is a kind of sapling also. She's not formed yet and doesn't really produce any fruit. We've multiplied, but Abigail herself is not a full harvest yet. She doesn't really do anything to please God other than to exist (which, since God created her life, must please him to some extent). Our job as parents is not only to care for our little sapling, but also keep her spirit strong and healthy so she will begin to produce fruit. To exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, and all the other characteristics of God's Spirit. Right now, cute as she is, she doesn't particularly exhibit anything (and lack of bad fruit is not the same as the production of good fruit, as any orchard farmer will tell us).
So my lack of patience and our murmuring are signs that our household fruit tree needs a little tending. But it can be tended and the spirit-tree can be strengthened so that the fruit is undamaged. It doesn't just "happen", so if it's just not happenin', we have work to do. We have to see some things differently, but we have all the tools we need.
And that is an encouraging thought.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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