Oh, the fruit of the Spirit's not an apple. The fruit of the Spirit's not an apple. If you want to be an apple, you might as well hear it - you can't be the fruit of the Spirit.
Indeed, this is the passage that tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But what about when you find yourself in need of just a little bite of this fruit, but the Spirit's orchard seems to be woefully empty?
Then, we should say, you are browsing in the wrong orchard.
The Spirit is an interesting character because He never does anything on His own turf; throughout the history of God's people, the Spirit always does things on our turf. That means that when we go browsing in the Spirit's orchard, we're simply fooling ourselves. He grows His fruit in our orchard.
And that means that if there's no fruit to be found, then we are the ones who have failed to sufficiently cultivate it.
Look at some of the things that the Spirit has done in the Scriptures. In Acts, the Spirit enables the apostles to speak in new tongues. In the Old Testament, the Spirit enables David to slay the giant, Goliath. In Judges, the Spirit strengthens Samson one more time to bring down the pillars and crush the Philistines. But the apostles still had to speak. David had to take one faithful step into the valley. Samson had to put his hands on the pillars.
The Spirit didn't just do the work; He enabled God's persons to do it through power and faith.
It's the same for us. The Spirit isn't just growing fruit in random places; He's enabling us to cultivate it in our own lives. And that means that we have to take responsibility for our own orchards.
It means that we have to make sure that we're providing enough water, living water - that we're living in Christ's love in such a way that it nourishes our soul and what we're trying to grow here. It means that we have to take the pruning shears in our hands and be willing to cut off anything that isn't producing good fruit. We have to cut off impatience, misery, defeatedness, harshness, impulsiveness - anything that isn't the fruit of the Spirit has got to go, in order to make room for what we're growing. It means that every now and then, we need to walk through and sample our own garden, get used to the taste of the things that we're growing. That way, we don't only know what joy looks like; we know what it tastes like. It becomes a real and vibrant experience for us.
And then when we need it, we know that it's there - plump, full, tender, and ripe. Ready for picking.
And you know what else? If one day, we have a fruit that doesn't seem so ripe, we can trust in the wisdom of God's incredible creation and leave our orchard to the mysteries of cross-pollination, which spreads across crops and helps them all to grow.
So if our patience runs a little raw sometimes, that's okay - our goodness may be able to help encourage it. If our gentleness is just a little harsh, that's okay - our peace may offer it what it needs. If we have even one crop that is nourished and well, then our orchard is sound because one thing feeds off another, and this is even more true when the winds blow hard and the bees sting - because these are the very things that move pollen from one place to another.
The fruit of the Spirit's not an apple. But it's just as sweet. We must only be willing to cultivate it in our own orchards, for that is where the Spirit has always done His work.