As though I’ve never understood it before, I have been struck anew recently by the metaphor of fruit in the New Testament. It hit me the other day that fruit is just that- FRUIT – meaning that it is the result of something else. It seems so ridiculously obvious and yet it was a complete epiphany for me.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Gal 5:22
I have long strived to be more loving and joyful, to show more patience and kindness by focusing on these things. I have come to realize this would be like a farmer saying he wanted more apples or sweeter apples by focusing on the apples without addressing HOW apples get sweeter and HOW the trees produce more fruit.
Fruit is the result of other things – how deep the roots are, how nutritious the soil is, how abundant the water is, and the temperature. Some of these things are within the farmer’s control and others are not. A good farmer would focus on making the soil nutritious and providing the right amount of water rather than staring at the branches trying to will the apples to appear more plentiful and sweeter. Now for the fruit in my life, I’m striving to focus on my spiritual nourishment and trust the Lord with the climate (my circumstances) and the making of the fruit.
The other epiphany I had recently about fruit is that it is seasonal. I know, duh! I realized that when I read John 15 and Galatians 5, I was picturing the supermarket produce section where there are always apples, bananas and oranges, etc. year-round. Jesus, Paul, and their hearers would have had a completely different concept of fruit. They would never have expected year-round grapes or figs or pomegranates. And when they said an area was known for its sweet grapes, they would not mean that it had sweet grapes every single day of the year but when they were in season.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecc. 3:1
I still haven’t completely wrapped my head around this idea and how it might be significant (especially with Jesus cursing the fig tree that didn’t have fruit out of season). For now, where I have been getting frustrated with myself for not having a basket full of love or joy or patience every single day, perhaps there is a time to rest and let God do His work below the surface trusting Him to reap the harvest when the time is right – when it is needed most.