Last week, we contrasted the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is the opposite of the works of the flesh. The Lord produces the fruit in us – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Jesus says in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” The key word is abide. Branches on a vine don’t strain and try harder to produce fruit. The vine provides the life-giving sap and nutrients needed. The branch just has to stay connected to the vine. It’s the same with us! When we stay connected to Him, He will produce organic, genuine spiritual fruit in us.
Who among us does not need more patience? We want everything now. We want fast food, the fast lane, the fast pass, etc. In James 1, we are told to count it all joy when we go through trials because the testing of our faith produces patience and ultimately works in us to make us “perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (v. 2-4). Storms will come. They will either make you bitter or better. What makes the difference? The Spirit. In James 5 patience is likened to a farmer waiting for a harvest (v. 7-8). Farmers have to be patient from one season to the next. They till, plant, weed, water, watch and wait. God works in seasons! Some of you can’t wait for the season you are in to be over. Don’t just endure the present season of life, but enjoy it! In due season you shall reap if you faint not. You can’t control what happens, but you can control your response! In Matthew 18:23-35, we read a parable in which a man receives patience, compassion, and forgiveness from his master, but then turns around and does not offer it to his servant. The master was of course angry! Verse 35 tells us that God also does not like when we don’t offer others patience, because He has been so patient with us. Human nature is “I’m not going to be kind to those who are unkind to me,” but God is patient and kind even when we don’t deserve it.
“Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Cor. 13:4). We live in an age of rage. Just listen to the news or look at social media and public discourse. Christians are to be different! God produces His fruit in us, which is grounded in His character. Titus 3:4-5 says, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy….” Psalm 145, Hebrews 11:4, Luke 6:35-36, Romans 2:4, and Ephesians 2:7 also speak of God’s kindness. We are commanded to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave [us]” (Eph. 4:32). It’s an amazing thing that God would love and seek those who were against Him. We don’t forgive people because they deserve it, but because God forgave us when we did not deserve it. Apart from the grace of God, we get preoccupied with our problem, our plans, and our pleasure. Everyone’s favorite subject is self. Look for opportunities to show simple expressions of kindness. Mark Twain said, “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can read.”
The “fruit” of goodness is not feeling good, looking good, being good, or doing good. Romans 3:12 says, “There is none good, no not one.” In ourselves we have no good thing, but the Lord is good! James 1:17 says every good and perfect gift is from Him. Romans 12:2 says His will is good and Micah 6:8 says He has shown us what is good. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8)! Jesus went about doing good and that is what we are called to do. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. We are the body of Christ. John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can.” People remember kindness. You remember teachers, employers, and employees who showed you kindness, right? Patience, kindness, and goodness should start at home, with the people you are around most. Stay connected to the Vine and let God produce His fruit in you.