Our church is reading through Galatians. We’re doing it as a six-week series, one chapter per week. We read the assigned chapter every day (ideally), reflect on it, and discuss it during the week; then our pastor shares his thoughts on it the following Sunday–not to tell us if we’re right or wrong, but simply to offer what spoke to him about it.
This week we’re reading chapter 5. So much good stuff in there! “Christ set us free, to be free men. Stand firm, then, and refuse to be tied to the yoke of slavery again.” (5:1) That’s a whole sermon right there! But there’s also “…the only thing that counts is faith active in love.” (5:6) Again, a whole sermon in just a handful of words.
Then we get to verses 22-23: “But the harvest of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control.” I was kind of relieved when I came to this because I thought, “Oh, fruit of the Spirit; I’ve heard that before–I get this–Hooray!” I liked the familiarity of it and I liked that it suggests our goal is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control. While I don’t have them all mastered by any means, they at least seem doable–thank goodness “sinless” and “perfection” aren’t on the list. Plus, I’ve always liked the “fruit” metaphor and the idea that love, joy, peace, etc. are growing in me. Yes, I hope so!
It wasn’t until my third readthrough of chapter 5 this week that I realized my translation actually said “harvest of the Spirit” instead of “fruit of the Spirit”. Out of habit, I had automatically seen it as “fruit”; but that morning I finally noticed the word “harvest”. I admit my first thought was that my translation was wrong–Don’t they know it’s FRUIT of the Spirit?
But then I thought about the word “harvest”. My grandpa was a farmer, so I grew up around agriculture and seasons of planting and harvesting. After all the pruning and watering and sunshine does its work over the year, one day the fruit is finally ready. A big juicy peach or a crisp red apple may look beautiful on the tree, but it doesn’t do anyone any good unless it’s picked and added to the harvest. Once that happens, the peach or apple can be eaten plain or cut up into fruit salad or made into jam or (better yet) a pie–it doesn’t matter so much how the fruit is used but simply that it isn’t left unused on the tree going to waste.
The same goes for us.
“…the harvest of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control.” It’s one thing to have that fruit growing within us, but it’s another thing to harvest it and put it to use.
I loved that realization, but for a moment it felt like a burden, like a chore I was being assigned: get to work and start harvesting!
But I kept reading.
“If the Spirit is the source of our life, let the Spirit also direct our course.” (5:25)
“Harvesting” isn’t a job. It’s not a big heavy task. We don’t have to go out searching for “jams” and “pies” or keep track of how many bushels we’ve picked. Rather, “if the Spirit is the source of our life, let the Spirit also direct our course.” Meaning: when the fruit is ready, He’ll tell us how to use it.
So stay tuned.
(that’s the trickiest one for me–shhh…listen…)
Listen some more.
Share the harvest that God has so carefully been watering and growing and preparing in you. Because although the fruit makes for a very pretty tree, it also makes for an even prettier (tastier) pie.
Share the harvest.