The Fruit of the Spirit

Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Article for September, 2015

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things… If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Ephesians 5:22-25

It is landscaping time at the Manse on Newport Street. My family and I purchased a house at the beginning of April; one that has received little attention during the past 32 years. We have spent the better part of the past four months remodeling its interior. There are a still a few items left on that to-do list, but during these warm summer days our attention has turned to the landscaping.

Consequently, we have spent a lot of time evaluating the trees and shrubs and plants on our lot. Which ones have deep green leaves, and which leaves have gone brown? Which ones have vital blossoms, and which have no blooms at all? Which ones have bare, brittle branches and which ones have supple green limbs? The truth of the saying is obvious at our address: “You can identify a tree by its fruit.”

In the New Testament book Ephesians, the writer claims that a life led by God’s Spirit also can be identified by its fruit. That has been the focus at Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp this past summer. A number of Saint Peter campers have experienced it during weeks at the camp, or through one of the camp’s off-site ministries. By the time camping season winds down, I’ll have been fortunate enough to study this theme at Confirmation Camp, Day Camp (at Saint Peter!), Family Weekend Camp and the Men’s Fishing Retreat.

A key element of this year’s study at RTLC is that there are not nine distinct fruits of the Spirit in a faithful person’s life. It isn’t that you might have two or three of them and I might have two or three others. But in each of our lives the Spirit is stirring us to bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

As we learn from Ephesians, this is what the faithful life looks like. Certainly, some of these dimensions of Spirit-life are expressed in each of our lives in richer and more developed ways than others. You might find that joy and generosity come easily to you while peace and gentleness are a bit more elusive. But God desires that every one of us be stirred by the Spirit to grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and (not or) self-control.

So how are these dimensions of Spirit-life a part of your life? Which are like a plant that has green leaves, vital blossoms and supple green limbs? Which tend towards brown leaves, no blooms and bare, brittle branches? The good news is that while a landscaper might dig up a failing plant to replace it with something healthier, that isn’t how it works with the Spirit. God continues to nurture these nine dimensions of Spirit-life in each of us. The question is: how will we work with God to bring new life in these areas of our lives? I’d love to hear what you are doing, and how the Spirit is strengthening you in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

May the Holy Spirit stir you to faithfulness, Pastor Dave