The Fruit of the Spirit

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.   (Galatians 5:22)

When I moved into town as a new pastor, I heard terrible stories about George. He had chased the ladies, been too fond of liquor, and been a shady businessman.

Every time I heard one of these murmurings about George, I was confused.  I couldn’t square the George I heard about with the George I was getting to know.

On an emergency hospital call one morning at about 4 a.m., I passed George’s house and saw that the lights were on.  Later that week, I remarked to George that he must be an early riser.  He said, “I’m up early praying for all the people I know.”  George didn’t say these words to impress me. It was clear his praying was as normal to him as his breathing.

After George and I had become friends, I told him that I would sometimes hear outlandish gossip about him.  He laughed and told me that the gossip didn’t begin to describe what he had really been like.

When I asked him how he’d so radically changed, he said that when he hit rock bottom, a former priest had given him a key to the church, along with today’s scripture: “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5: 22).

That priest told George that whenever he was tempted to return to his “old” life he should come to the church, day or night, and read Paul’s words until he had “inwardly digested the fruit.” For the next several years George spent most Saturday nights praying and sometimes sleeping in the church.

What brought about the change in George?  He “ate the fruit.”  As he ate the fruits of the Holy Spirit his own life began to bear kinder, more self-controlled, faithful, and generous fruit.

What we eat impacts what and who we become.  This is true physically and spiritually.  When we eat food that’s bad for us, our bodies suffer.  When we eat food that’s good for our souls, our lives are changed.

All dietary experts encourage us to “eat the fruit.” So does Jesus.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Are you eating fruits that are good or harmful for your heart, soul, and faith? If good, what are they?  If not, are you willing to change your diet?
  1. All “diets” take discipline. This is true physically and spiritually.  What do you make of the connection between “disciplines” and “disciple?” What disciplines would help you to be a disciple of Jesus?
  1. Eating the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-26) changed George’s life. How do you think that regularly eating the same Spirit could change yours?

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