Fruit of the Spirit

Over the last month, Ryan Cole and I have been meeting with the ten students we’ll be accompanying on a spring break service trip to Spalding County, GA. At our last meeting, our student leaders led us in a great activity: we each anonymously wrote down one worry we were carrying about the trip. Then, we read all the worries out loud.

There was a strong pattern: most of us were anxious about feeling worn out, overloaded, needing space to ourselves and not being able to get it. One student wrote: “I’m afraid I’ll get exhausted and then snap at someone,” and the rest of the group nodded in understanding. We’ve all been there.

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23,25).

I’ve been thinking about the conditions that get in the way of those fruits of the spirit – that make them more difficult to grow. When I’m overworked, it’s harder to have self control (hello, fast food). When I’m overbusy, it’s harder to be patient with others. 

In contrast, there are conditions that help me grow that spiritual fruit. When I spend time with people who care about me, my own well of kindness fills up. When I pay attention to my own blessings, it’s easier for me to be generous with others.

The Christian cultures I grew up in emphasized a number of important spiritual practices: worship, reading scripture, prayer. It’s worth noting that in addition to these classic Chrisitan habits, the scriptures also emphasize (and even command!) things like rest and community, personal boundaries and good communication. These are also spiritual practices – conditions through which the Spirit works to bear fruit in us. 

During this season of Lent, I invite you into the question: Which fruits of the Spirit would you like to see more of in your own life? Which spiritual practices – even out-of-the-ordinary ones – would open a way for the Spirit to grow that fruit in you?

– Pastor Kate

Rev. Katherine Museus and Rev. James A. Wetzstein serve as university pastors at the Chapel of the Resurrection at Valparaiso University and take turns writing weekly devotions.

February 28, 2024