​About a week ago, our Pastor preached on growing and producing the fruit of the Spirit. He took care to remind us that the nine attributes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control were not the various fruits of the Spirit, but nine attributes that made up the fruit of the Spirit (singular). Which also meant that none were optional; we need to grow in every attribute to produce a healthy and acceptable fruit.

What is remarkable is not that we are to exhibit these qualities in non conducive circumstances, but that we are never to weary but keep on exhibiting them till we finish the race marked out for us.

Let us examine a few. Love – to love my boss when she’s good to me and to love her in the same manner when she’s not. Patience or long suffering – to not be provoked by my neighbour, to forgive every time and have no remembrance of the wrong. And to exhibit all this with the same vigour and the same intensity, every day, day after day.

J Oswald Sanders calls this the fruit in character – in the inward life. He also talks about the fruit in service – outward ministry. He reminds us that fruit bearing, a mark of true discipleship, however is not automatic; it is optional. “If it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Does our life as disciples set apart time to growing (spiritually) in order to bear this fruit that lasts? What activities, what investment are we doing today to produce the kind of fruit that will enjoy this blessing-  “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” That is a radical, life changing, world changing promise.

Which shall it be, little corn of wheat?
Do you choose to live as a golden seed,
Or die alone in an earthern bed
For the hungry world in need?

Will you save your life from the cold and the rain,
Or give it back to the furrowed field
That soon the reaper’ s hands may come
And gather the harvest yield?

Which shall it be, O soul of mine?
Will you love your life for a few short years,
Or give it all for the Master’s sake
And the cry of the world through tears?

Though you lose your life it will spring anew
From the tomb where it once was sealed,
And a wealth of golden sheaves shall stand
In the Master’s harvest field.

-Ruth Gibbs Swall