Growing up, when we would go to my mamaw’s house I would get fascinated with the fruit bowl she had sitting in the formal living room. The formal living room, in and of itself, was a fascinating place to be. The white carpet and couches had protective coverings over them. We were to remove our shoes before even stepping on said plastic coverings. It held every breakable thing known to mankind. For two very mischievous cousins (who incidentally were wreaking havoc on the car port just moments earlier), this was our quiet space. It was the place we had to tiptoe into for fear of her finding us in her most prized possessions. It was also the place where mamaw would hide the Reese’s peanut butter cups from our papaw because he never went in there.
This fruit bowl that sat on the coffee table or side board, depending upon if company was coming over was a source of fascination for me. It held grapes, lemons, and the occasional apple…it seemed to float around in places. The bowl was this beautiful crystal, a part of a set I believe my mamaw had, but it held this fruit which from afar looked real. For this inquisitive child though, I quickly learned appearances were deceiving. All of the fruit was fake, faux, not real. After a while, I would pull off the grapes and strategically rearrange them, leaving some in the bottom of the bowl to continue the facade that my mamaw kept her perishable fruit in this pristine bowl in a room no one was ever really allowed to be in except for Christmas and when the pastor came over.
The fruit came to mind as I have been looking at the fruits of the Spirit. For the better part of my faith journey I have thought the fruits of the Spirit were of my own making. That I could conjure them up within me if I prayed and did just as best I could. It was very formulaic for me. But the deeper I dig into this study on them I am finding they are truly conditions of a lasting relationship with Christ.
None of it I can finagle or check off in order to get joy or goodness. It’s about abiding and allowing Him to work through me to produce that fruit. This fruit, as Sarah Matheny says, “is a manifestation of who He is.” So it’s not within me to produce but He does a work, in making me into His image have the capacity to know joy, to carry joy and to be joy for others.
That fruit is one that is not faux but one that continues to produce as I grow in relationship with Him. It’s not something to be left untouched, or put on display, in a room for others to admire. It’s pruned, fed, and comes in seasons to be relished and feed others just as the Spirit feeds me when I am in Him.
Here’s to no longer crafting plastic fruit, that seems like fruit but is only a best attempt at being something. Here’s to growing deeper in relationship with Him and having the fruits made manifest out of that relationship through me.