“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
These words from today’s Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer are so rich (and so well-known) that it’s hard to know what to say about them.
I’m tempted to contrast this “fruit of the Spirit” with the “acts of the flesh” that are listed a couple verses earlier (“hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy”) and ask which seems more descriptive of our times. But that seems way too obvious; and – since the passage also says that “the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh” – it’s hardly surprising.
I’m attracted, too, to the element of “slowness” that the “fruit of the Spirit” implies. Cultivating fruit takes time. And slowing down long enough to “savor” this list (which is something I all too rarely do) takes time. And perhaps most of all, “serving one another humbly in love” rather than “using your freedom to indulge the flesh” (which is the admonition with which this passage begins) takes time. But time is at a premium on this busy Friday morning, so I won’t “take the time” to dwell there.
Perhaps, then – in keeping with the sermon series I’ve been preaching this month and that ends this coming Sunday – I’ll rest in the promise that these virtues are the gift of grace and not the result of our anxious striving. It’s the “fruit of the Spirit” – not the “product of strenuous spiritual effort.” And as we “keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25) [Personal reminder: The Spirit is probably not in as much of a hurry as I often seem to think that I need to be] – I think we discover that “good fruit” grows within us and is made available to nourish a hungry world.
So may you have a “fruitful Friday”! And may the weekend ahead offer you an opportunity to slow down and to rest in the grace that alone has the power to make us new.