I can’t believe I wanted to give up on these, but earlier this spring, when I assessed the state of my weedy patch of strawberry plants, I was discouraged.
“Just till them under,” I told my husband. But, stubborn man that he is, he kept a wide strip of the struggling plants. “I like picking fresh strawberries on my way to the barn,” he said.
I let him know it would be his job to weed and tend the pitiful plants while I put my efforts into the rest of the garden. Of course, that didn’t happen.
Then one Saturday, while he was hard at work elsewhere, I decided to give him the gift of strawberries. I sat at the edge of the patch and laboriously pulled all the stubborn grass that was taking over. The blossoms were just beginning to show, and I hoped it wasn’t too late.
It wasn’t. I’ve harvested a small mountain of berries in the past two weeks, and there are more waiting for me now.
Funny thing about fruit — it’s almost always preceded by the blessing of blossoms and it benefits from careful tending.
The familiar verses in Galatians remind us of a different kind of fruit, the characteristics of a follower of Christ:
“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.” Galatians 5:22-23
Even on my best days I exhibit maybe three or four “fruits”. Other times, my branches are nearly bare. But I learned something about myself recently. On my own, I’m not capable of even one of these Christ-like characteristics.
The good news is, from the moment I became a Christian, the Holy Spirit began a work in me, reforming and shaping me into the image of Christ, the blueprint for my character.
Because of the Holy Spirit living in me, I am learning to love like Jesus loved when He laid down his life for me. I can experience His joy and know His peace because of the work of the Holy Spirit in me. I am learning patience through lessons He brings into my life and by imitating the example of Christ, I can show kindness toward people who are not like me. Any goodness that shows up in my character is because of my God, who is nothing but good, and my faithfulness is rooted in learning to put my trust in Jesus. And finally, I am learning self-control every day as God shows me how to resist temptation and make right choices.
In my own strength, I fall short. Thank you, Jesus, that I’m not working at this alone. Just like I can’t “force” strawberry plants to bear fruit, there is no way I can cause these characteristics to magically become part of my make-up. But with careful tending and by intentionally opening up to the Holy Spirit’s influence in my life, I just might bear fruit after all.
To help you remember the fruit of the spirit, I’m sharing a little ditty I learned as a camp counselor.