Devotions

Finding the Fruit

November 9, 2021
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
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When I heard about the year’s theme for the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group at my church, I worried it might disqualify me as a leader.

The theme was “Fresh Fruit,” based on the fruit of the Spirit. Fresh fruit? I thought. How am I supposed to teach other women how to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit when I so lack patience, kindness and gentleness myself?

The nine external fruits of internal growth are outlined by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

As mothers of littles, we were a group desperate for more gentleness and forbearance (patience). How about some self-control? With babies on our hips and diaper bags on our shoulders, we were running on empty.

Our “mom guilt” was strong, and we knew all the ways we weren’t experiencing joy or peace. Love was there — we were overwhelmed by how much we loved our children — but kindness was often determined by how well rested we were, and it wasn’t the season of a good night’s sleep.

Our groups talked about how we strived to muster up more gentleness but seemed to always fall short. It often felt like one step forward, two steps back. It was difficult to see God’s everyday work in us.

But through these discussions, you know what we became really good at? Seeing the fruit in each other and calling it out to encourage one another.

I could easily see faithfulness in the group leaders who dropped off food the night before a meeting even though they wouldn’t be able to attend because of a sick child at home.

I saw kindness over and over as women called each other to check in when someone had shared something difficult the week before.

I even saw patience as a leader led a small group discussion with a woman who always dominated the conversation.

We gave each other the fuel we were desperate for by saying out loud “You showed gentleness right there” or “How you handled that situation took so much self-control.” This was the kind of refreshing talk that propelled us forward. We were calling out the good in each other.

When the Holy Spirit is stirring in us and shaping our thought patterns, we can’t help but have these “fruit blossoms” — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control — appear and grow into more substantial fruit.

A lemon tree doesn’t decide to grow lemons; it is created to do so, and under the right conditions, it produces lots of good and flavorful fruit. A lemon tree doesn’t give us hamburgers or broccoli; it gives us lemons. The Holy Spirit doesn’t produce jealousy, bitterness or selfishness. The Spirit produces love, joy and peace.

When we’re looking for hope in the world, for God’s goodness, there is no purer expression than these traits that result from God working in us. And when we see these traits in others, it is a gift to name them because sometimes we need someone else to remind us that we are producing fruit … especially when the conditions are harsh.

And it’s there that we’ll see God’s goodness — through the people around us who are producing the Spirit’s fruit.

Lord God, help me to see Your goodness in the people and places around me. Give me clear eyes to notice and a gentle tongue to speak affirmations out loud. May You be glorified in my seeking and finding. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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If you want to begin or continue the practice of seeing God at work in the midst of the mess, you can pick up a copy of Alexandra Kuykendall’s newest book, Seeking Out Goodness: Finding the True and Beautiful All around You.

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FOR DEEPER STUDY

Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV)

Proverbs 6:16-19, “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” (NIV)

In what ways do you see the fruit of the Spirit growing in your own life?

Who is one person around you who is growing in one of the fruits of the Spirit? Make a plan to tell them today how you see that trait growing in them.

© 2021 by Alex Kuykendall. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Baker Publishing Group for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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