We have a couple of tomato plants adorning the front stoop of our house. They’ve grown dramatically from the six inch plants we put in the ground to the six foot tall monsters with green branches and leaves growing all over the place. Of course, what we’re excited about is not the great green growth but the tomatoes we were able to harvest last evening and enjoy on our salads! Who cares about green growth, we want fruit from those branches, we want tomatoes!
I want my life to be fruitful. In fact, I’d like every day to be a fruitful day. I could come up with my own idea, my own definition of what that looks like. For me, that might mean getting so much work done on the sermon or visiting so many people in a day or meeting with some leadership. For you it might mean producing a product, serving customers, delivering some goods, processing some paperwork, washing the car, or getting the house clean. How about we defer to the Lord and what He defines as fruit in His Word.
The Bible says that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) According to God, the life that is productive, that gets results, is the life that exhibits these nine characteristics.
Look at that list again. It’s all about relationships, not results. It’s all about being rather than doing. Am I really expressing love, exhibiting joy, projecting a peaceful attitude, exhibiting patience, showing kindness, producing goodness, delivering faithfulness, displaying gentleness, and showing self-control?
I know I can’t do this on my own. Thankfully, I don’t have to try! This “fruit” is called the “fruit of the Spirit” which means it’s God’s Spirit that produces this fruit, not me! It’s not about gritting my teeth and trying to be a good person in these nine ways, but it’s about consciously seeking to walk through my day with the Spirit of God as my companion. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)
How about this little exercise? Notice that you’re breathing right now, you’d better be inhaling and exhaling! (The word “spirit” comes from the word “breath” so this is an appropriate little exercise to do – hang in there with me.) As you exhale imagine yourself exhaling the self-centered spirit we all have as a toxin in our selves that causes us to react to people and situations in all kinds of wrong ways. As you inhale imagine taking in the Holy Spirit of God, for He seeks to be closer to us than the air we breath. Exhale self, inhale His Spirit, exhale self, inhale His Spirit. Take this breathing lesson seriously!
Tomato plants, by nature, produce tomatoes. People who let themselves be filled with the Holy Spirit of God, by nature, produce the fruit of the Spirit. It can be a productive day in the right way when we keep in step with the Spirit throughout the day!