But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
Now that we have retired to Florida, I miss seeing the leaves change, feeling a nip of frost in the air and finding fresh apple cider at the market in September. While I was working I spent several decades pruning apple trees during the winter and then watching in delight as they blossomed in May, started forming little green apples in June and standing ready for harvest in September. Then harvesters began arriving and worked through mid-October. The orchards were ready for them with special housing set aside for those workers, many of whom came every year. They picked the old classics like Macintosh and Cortland as well as newly minted favorites like Honey Crisp. Even the trees are all different. Some are tall, needing ladders to reach the sweet fruit far up in the crown, while dwarf varieties can be picked with both feet firmly on the ground. But no matter what variety of apple, or what kind of tree they are picked from, they all share one thing in common. Their fruit is picked and sent to people who wait eagerly to bake them into pies or put into them into bowls on their kitchen tables. Only wild trees stand unattended and unpicked, yet even these provide their harvest for deer, rabbits and squirrels. No one picks apples and then dumps them under the trees as fertilizer.
Yet that is often what we Christians think we should do. We are God’s orchard because He has planted us (all different varieties). In winter He has pruned us and in Springtime sent rain. In summer His sunshine has helped us grow, then at harvest we are given the privilege to bear the fruit of His Spirit. But we see baskets filled with love, joy peace, and patience, thinking, “Hooray! It’s all for me!” We show up for church, raise our hands and sing joyfully. Then we sweep out the doors, soaking in the peace of God’s Spirit. But is there an apple or two of kindness left for the waitress who is slow with our lunch? Can we share a piece of joy filled pie with a crabby relative or pour a glass of the fresh pressed cider of patience for a neighbor who has an opposing political view? Is God’s sweet fruit only for us or are we ready to load our bushel baskets filled with goodness and mercy and head to the marketplace to share them with our hungry world?