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How to Cultivate the Best Fruit in the World
A while ago our family went to Costa Rica for an extended mission outreach. We were a young family traveling with a one-year-old who was just learning to walk and talk. Traveling as a family was a logistical challenge, but we also found that our son was one of the greatest assets in our team. There is nothing cuter than a toddling baby babbling his first words in a mixture of Spanish and English to warm the hearts of people. It was a fun and fruitful trip: we made awesome friends and got to share the Gospel with people in churches and on the streets, we saw people set free and healed and begin a relationship with Jesus. On top of all that, one thing that is inseparable from my memories of Costa Rica is the actual FRUIT!
Have you ever eaten fruit in a land where it is native after it has been allowed to naturally ripen on the plant, picked at just the right time and served to you will the warmth of the sunshine still flowing through its juices when you take a bite?! It makes my mouth water to even think about it – I remember thinking the first time I tasted pineapple in Costa Rica “I’m forever ruined for ordinary pineapple.” There was not a trace of the sweet/tart pineapple I grew up eating in North America and when I asked my hosts why they said it’s because the fruit will never develop the same sweetness when it’s harvested too soon. I remember every breakfast having the most delicious guavas and papayas. There were trees laden with bananas outside the door to the room we stayed in. Maybe you’ve lived on a farm or produced a great veggie garden, or even if you buy your produce from the Farmers Market – then you know what I’m talking about. There is just something special about the freshest fruit served in season close to where it’s grown.
Well now that I’ve got you planning your next mission trip or vacation to the place with the best tropical fruit, I have to confess that this blog is not actually about gardening or eating produce. There is something for us to learn about the actual best fruit in the world: the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. As I was thinking about this tricky title for the blog, I was wondering “are we going to need to grow the Fruit of the Spirit in heaven?” I think it’s a question for another blog – but my short answer is I don’t think so. There is something so completely earth-bound about us needing this supernatural fruit. We’re here on earth to cultivate this fruit because it is for other people. It makes them hungry for God, for the things of the Holy Spirit. Our journey of cultivating this fruit is also our path towards becoming more and more like Jesus.
Let’s look at this classic part of the Bible:
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23
It’s true that these things are displayed by people who are not believers in Jesus. However, I do know many new believers in Jesus say there was just ‘something different’ about the person who told them about Jesus. It’s the Fruit of the Spirit produced in their lives when they have received Jesus and allowed that to define their identity and conduct. I will never taste pineapple the same way after my trip to Costa Rica, we want to give people fruit that would taste different. The fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control will taste different in your life because of the Holy Spirit. There will be an ease to how it grows in your life, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require some effort on our part.
PREPARE THE SOIL
Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you. – Hosea 10:2
The hard ground of our hearts is the places we have been hardened by past hurts, unresolved issues and unmet needs. If we want to cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit, we choose to always be open to this because these kinds of experiences will keep happening in our lives. When we are new to faith in Jesus breaking up the hard ground happens easily because those areas are so obvious to us in the light of Jesus. As we go on in faith, we must maintain a soft heart that’s open to God showing us where we’ve been hardened by the stuff of life. Preparing the soil isn’t a one and done activity, it’s something we must keep watch over and thank God for His guidance and light in our lives to show us how.
PLANT AND WATER
The source of your seed is important. We’ve already acknowledged that the Holy Spirit is our source of the very best fruit. There was a time when this became really clear to me as I walked through a season that I knew I just didn’t have ‘enough’ for. My personality and human seed bank for gentleness and self-control was simply used up. In desperation I ask God to help me in those circumstances and He led me to the Fruit of the Spirit. There was a spotlight on that page in the bible as I saw what it said – I don’t have to produce it! It’s better that I’m out of my own effort because that was never enough anyway. God reminded me that the seed is the Word of God (Luke 8:11), and the Holy Spirit is the water (John 7:38-39). For more than a year, virtually every day we prayed through the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5 on our way out the door – thanking God for producing this fruit that we couldn’t grow ourselves. In this way we memorized it and it comes back to mind in moments we need it.
Let us allow the Holy Spirit cultivate the seed in us, working alongside Him in the garden of our lives to produce the very best fruit in the world!