Two months ago, I shared that I thought the verse Galatians 5:22-23 (i.e., the fruit of the Spirit) may be one of the most important verses in the Bible. For the next month or so, I will try to offer my own thoughts on what I think Paul was attempting to say with this illustration.

If you read the fifteenth chapter of John, it is full of lots of imagery about gardening. Branches. Pruning. Vines. Things growing. Jesus paints himself as the image of the vine and foretells in analogy that as followers grafted into him, we would thrive in how we lived. In these verses he declares some fairly astounding words. Listen to what Jesus says:

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do noth­ing. (John 15:4–5).

There are a lot of important passages or verses in the Bible. A couple of them come to mind. The first verse in Genesis. Psalm 23. The infamous one you see at football games, John 3:16. These are the typical favorites. Paul in his letter to the Galatians takes Jesus’ words above a step further and puts his own spin on them. In doing so, he perhaps writes one of the most important verses in all of the Bible:

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.

This verse details what exactly are the marks of being a Christian. In a handful of words, Paul encapsulates what it would look like to be a follower of Jesus and the qualities that would need to be found in that person. For myself, one day when I stand before God, these are the qualities he will be looking for in how I lived my life.

And if I was consistent in displaying these qualities.

And if I displayed these qualities under duress.

And if I displayed these qualities to those I am closet to like Julie, Josiah and Micah.

Paul carefully uses this imagery of maturing and ripening fruit to illustrate the characteristics of what a genuine Christian would look like in terms of their makeup as a person. Paul even has the audacity to say that these fruit are so vital in our lives that in his final statement, he ends by emphatically stating, “Against such things there is no law.” Essentially, Paul was saying that if a person exemplified in their life these types of characteristics because of their relationship with Jesus—with this fruit, they would live under absolutely no judgment. It’s a pretty amazing declaration if you think about it. In that statement, it makes me think of what St. Augustine also said when he boldly wrote, “Love, and do what you like.” I think both men were getting at the same thing.

Next time we will try to figure out how a person can get this “fruit” that Paul thinks is so important to our lives.

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In: Spiritual Formation
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