By Michael E. Brooks
?But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law? (Galatians 5:22-23).
Fruit salad is a favorite dish in South Asia, and we often enjoy it for dessert. Depending upon season, it may include any of a wide variety of fruits, many of which are not frequently seen in much of North America. In addition to the familiar banana, apple, orange, grape, and pineapple, there may be mango, papaya, pomegranate, lichi, dates, starfruit, bel, jackfruit, and others. Though some of these are definitely ?acquired tastes?, one comes to look forward to and enjoy them over time.
Much the same might be said for the variety of ?fruits of the Spirit? borne in the life of the Christian. Few would debate the desirability (?flavor?) of love, joy, or peace. But such virtues as patience (longsuffering), kindness, and gentleness may be rarer and less appreciated. One asked to try them for the first time may find them somewhat strange and not always pleasant. Experience with them however leads to a change of opinion, and a desire for more.
A mixture of fruits eaten together produces a somewhat different taste than the same fruit taken singly. The combined flavors and textures often result in a distinctive and highly enjoyable experience, not quite matched with any separate fruit. So the character of the Christian whom the Spirit has brought to maturity is fuller, stronger and better than that of the person who may excel in one virtue, but lacks variety. It is not enough to be very patient, if one is not also kind and gentle. Christian character is a wonderful blend of many attributes, all of which come from the Divine nature. It is the combination, rather than the abundance of any one element, which makes the Christian distinctive from others.
One advantage fruit salad has over many other delicious foods is that it does no harm. Fruit is among the healthiest of foods. Unless one adds sugar or cream (not necessary, because the fruit itself is delicious) there is nothing fattening in it. It contains no fats to build cholesterol, nor any of the other dangerous ?additives? associated with so many other foods. Within reason, one may eat it as often as he wishes, in good quantity, with a clear conscience. This is also the advantage of spiritual fruit. ?Against such there is no law?. It is always ok to be peaceful, joyous, or patient. No harm is ever done through love or self-control. These are good characteristics, to be commended in anyone. We may not always desire them in ourselves, but we never fault others for possessing them.
Fruit is universal. Some kind of fruit is grown anywhere on earth where crops may be found. From the dates of the desert to the cranberries of the extreme north, it is available. So Christians may acquire and enjoy the fruits of the Spirit where ever we may be, in any circumstance. Our character does not depend upon prosperity, health, freedom, or any other physical factor. Paul taught,
I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:11b-13).
If we walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25) we will be filled with Spiritual qualities. Our character will be molded by Divine influence. Our lives will be enriched by God?s blessings. Nothing is better than that.
By Michael E. Brooks