As a kid, I didn’t like salad, or “rabbit food,” as my brother and I affectionately called it. Now that I’m grown I enjoy a good salad and appreciate that it’s a healthy choice. The transition came over time and by taking a series of steps. At first, my mom gave me carrots or celery, and while I wasn’t crazy about these, I could handle one vegetable at a time. Then I graduated to carrots and lettuce with toppings that interest a youngster, like shredded cheese, croutons and bacon (because everything’s better with bacon). As time progressed, so did the makings of my salad. Before I knew it, I was a “leaf eater.”
Now that I have kids of my own, I get it. Taking it one step at a time is not only effective but it’s wise. I can help my kids make good choices on their own by coaching them to take small steps forward, like eating one vegetable at a time, for instance.
In Galatians 5 Paul makes reference to what he calls the “fruit of the Spirit.” These are the character traits that should mark the life of a follower of Jesus: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Let’s make sure we hear what Paul is saying. He is making reference to a spiritual fruit salad rather than a spiritual fruit tray… and trust me, there’s a huge difference between the two. If we read this and think “spiritual fruit tray,” then we consider the list and select one, maybe two, to sample and enjoy but leave the rest on the tray for others. This is not what Paul is saying. He is urging us to have all of the fruit of the Spirit displayed in our lives. With this understanding, our bowl is filled with all of the fruit, and we enjoy all of the offerings of the Spirit of God.
Maybe you’re thinking that it sounds too difficult to reflect all of the fruit of the Spirit in your life. Just remember the salad analogy of adding one vegetable at a time. I’d like to suggest a similar approach to the fruit of the Spirit. Ask God to give you the courage to become more peaceful or more patient. As you progress ask God to stretch you in another area. Before you know it, you will be growing in all of the areas of concern to the Spirit of God.
What are some of the dangers facing us if we treat the fruit of the Spirit as a fruit tray rather than a fruit salad?
Which has been the most difficult fruit for you to develop? Why?
What is your “favorite” fruit? What are you doing to excel in that area of your life?