“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.”
Galatians 5:22-23 MSG
This is a familiar New Testament passage of scripture that perhaps you don’t recognize because of the wording. The Message version has a beautiful way of teaching me to think beyond the memorized scripture to the heart that the author is expressing. This passage deals with what are commonly known as the Fruits of the Spirit.
Just as healthy trees produce good fruit, it is my experience that healthy love produces a similar yield. With well tended love, we experience growth and compassion and conviction. With shared experiences, those who are living in the beauty of love remain committed to the work of togetherness. Theses are the fruit AND the treasure of love.
We all know relationships that at one time were thriving in love. For whatever reason, that relationship is broken and bruised. The hurt is so real that new life is impossible. As I think about where relational demise begins, I am often taken back to the slow decay of truth and the unwillingness to stick with the journey of love. We are sold a bill of goods when we believe that love is a destination or point of arrival. I would propose that love is instead a journey of growth. Sometimes that road is smooth and easy to navigate. In these moments, fruit is easy to grow and nurture. But love is often forged in the moments of trial. The darker times – when patience is easy to lose and kindness is the hard work of commitment – is the pruning of the fruit tree. It is only in these times that we are able to trim away what is not serving us and make room for a new branch to bear fruit.
Just as Paul wrote to the church in Galatia, it is in love that our need to get our own way is crucified. We no longer live for ourselves, but as we produce the fruit of good work, of whole love, we abide in the generous and life giving exchange of growing deeper in our love relationships.