“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23
The summer after Aimee and I were married, we decided to see how green our thumbs were. We spent a little time in the flower beds. We pulled the weeds, trimmed back the hedges, and prepared the dirt for planting. One thing we wanted to try was growing our own tomatoes. Neither of us claimed to be gardeners, but it seemed like something fun to try for the first time.
We went to the store and selected a few small tomato plants. We brought them back home and planted them with great anticipation of the fruit that we would soon see. Weeks passed, and the plants grew. We watered them with great love and care. The little tomato plants were growing big and strong. There was only one problem. No tomatoes!
The summer months marched on and our little plants continued to grow, but not produce. I began to seek advice from more experienced gardeners. I received advice of all kinds, much of which I tried on those poor little tomato plants. One person told me to just grab the plants and give them a good shake while another person told us to get a flyswatter and give the plants a good spanking (she was not joking). I am sure it was quite the sight for our neighbors to see me punishing our fruitless plants with a flyswatter!
The summer came to an end and fall was beginning to change the color of the trees and the grass. While I was outside working one morning, I decided that it was time for those plants to go. Bidding them goodbye and good riddance, I reached down, grabbed them by the base, and tore them from the ground. I was carrying them to the trash when I glanced down and realized that at the base of the plant was a small green tomato that had just begun to grow. How sad! Had I waited just a bit longer, we would have enjoyed at least a small fruit of our labor.
Often when we try new things in life, we begin with the end results in mind. This is a great motivator to get things started, but it does not always paint an accurate picture of the work and time needed to produce our desired outcome. Whether it is growing vegetables, learning a new skill, trying to get in better shape, starting a new project at work, or even developing a new spiritual discipline, we need to understand that the fruit of labor is not always an instant result. Patience and dedication are often what is needed to achieve the success we desire. In the case of our first tomato plants, the eventual fruit that was developed was patience.
God is patient with us as we grow and develop into the persons He created us to become. God’s grace and mercy are constantly at work in our lives, helping us to grow, mature, and become the creation intended from the beginning. We, too, must be patient so that our work, our efforts, can produce good fruit. I hope today you will keep up the work of growing in your faith. Remember, you are not alone. God is with you as you develop the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit that helps us to love as God has loved us.
– Rev. Keith King, Pastor of Worship