Fruit in Bunches

Read: Galatians 5:24; John 15:12-17

Those who belong to Christ . . . (v. 24)

The fruit of the Spirit is different from the fruit of the self-help movement, and it’s also different from those qualities we call virtues. Virtues typically refer to the way a person’s character has been formed. Is she courageous? Is he truthful? Virtues are valuable, but they only go so far. Virtues are mostly focused on the individual; they refer to the way one person acts, and they direct praise toward that person for being virtuous.

There’s a tendency to regard the fruit of the Spirit like virtues, as though living in the Spirit will produce better character traits for us as individuals. That’s only partly true. The fruit of the Spirit fully blossoms only in the body of Christ, which is never complete with just one person. Real fruit of the Spirit shows up not only in our personal journeys but also in community. Things like love, peace, patience, and all the rest are not solo experiences. In contrast to the way of the flesh, which keeps us self-focused, the Spirit’s way helps us grow in our concern for others. We yearn to bear fruit for the benefit of those around us, not just for ourselves.

When fruit ripens in community, the world can better see how something is at work among us that surpasses our human inclinations. Our calling is to bear fruit in the communities of faith to which we belong.

As you pray, ask God to draw you together with the body of Christ, to walk in the Spirit together.

About the Author

Jessica Bratt Carle lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she has served as a chaplain and more recently as a clinical ethicist at Corewell Health (formerly Spectrum Health) since 2017. She is a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She and her husband have two young sons.

This entry is part 4 of 15 in the series Fruit of the Spirit