It's been an incredible summer for me- and I hope it has been for you as well.
First and foremost, I would like to thank all the guest posters for pouring their time, thoughts, prayers, and insights into the posts they wrote for this series. Your wonderful words and perspectives made this series far richer than I could ever have done had I written the posts myself. Thank you for sharing with my readers and with me this summer!
(If you haven't seen all the posts, or if you'd like to review them, I've created a page just for our In Season series-- you can see that here.)
The Fruit of the Spirit is a list, yes, but I think we're mistaken when we use this "list" as a way to check off our good deeds, or as a ruler by which to measure our "holiness."
Instead, these powerful and counter-cultural qualities are a product- a natural occurrence- the result of living a life led by and connected to Christ. Simply by living in Him, we're producing.
There's nothing we need to work on, nothing we need to plan for, nothing we need to force ourselves to do. All we really need to do is stay connected to our Vine. We'll be okay.
God grows these things in us, often without our help- it's a not about my effort or time or focus. In fact, most of the time, it's in spite of me.
Staying rooted in Christ, being fed by His Word, surrounded by a community of His people? It will make us different.
Our culture, just like the culture of Galatia, has it's own list of virtues- it's own values and "fruits." We know that those virtues are rooted not in the soil of a Gospel-faith, of God's new creation, but in dead and confused humanity.
And so, we stick out.
Love- in the midst of hate and anger and self-centeredness.
Joy- in the human culture of discontent and depression.
Peace- amid constantly bombardment with the ways we're not good enough, constantly wading through conflict.
Patience- even in this world of entitlement and fast-food-mentality.
Kindness- shining through selfishness and superiority.
Goodness- in the face of tangible, unquestioned evil.
Faithfulness- when being emotionally uninvolved is admired, and perseverance underrated.
Gentleness- when the world tells us we need to be aggressive and forceful to succeed or survive.
Self-Control- even when controlling others is more socially accepted then controlling ourselves, even when we're surrounded by convenience and the world worships comfort.
And to be honest, in my life? It's often those waiting times, those hurting times.. the vulnerable, crying-on-the-bathroom-floor, that produce the most growth-- not the moments when I'm trying my hardest to be "good" or "patient" or "kind."
I can't do it.
I can't do it on my own.
It's those hard moments that grow me the most because it's those hard moments that bring me closest to my God.
So as we look back over these fruits, the fruits of a life rooted in Christ, vulnerable and dependent on God, I have a challenge for you.
Instead of mentally deciding which of these qualities you find yourself weakest in, think about how God is producing each of these through your life.
In your life right now. In this moment, no matter how messy, how dry, how barren... He's working it all for your good.