Gospel Relevance

Gospel-Centered Resources For The Gospel-Driven Life

Spiritual Fruit Grows Slowly

I have braces. As a result, I must see an orthodontist every month. My conversation with her goes something like this:

She asks me how’s it going. I tell her it’s not going well. She asks me why. I tell her I’m not seeing any results. She affirms me that I am. I affirm her that I’m not. She points out areas of growth, and tells me to be patient. “See you next month,” she says. I leave.

Next month arrives.

She asks me how’s it going. I tell her it’s not going well. She asks me why. I tell her it’s the same as last month — I’m not seeing any results. She affirms me that I am. I affirm her that I’m not. She points out areas of growth, and tells me to be patient. “See you next month,” she says. I leave.

Next month arrives.

She asks me how’s it going. I say — you know, I think I’m starting to see some results, to which she replies, “I told you so!”

Is this the exact wording of our conversation? No. I am exaggerating to make a point, and my point is this: growth in life often happens at a frustratingly slow pace.

Such is the case with the fruit of the Spirit.

Paul speaks of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Those of us with fruit gardens know that fruit grows slowly, and often takes much time and thoughtfulness. When Paul uses this metaphor, he is reminding his audience that spiritual fruit is similar to physical fruit: both grow slowly.

As others have pointed out, your growth in the spiritual fruits should not be measured day-by-day, but year-by-year. Consider your growth, for example, with the fruit of patience. Do not ask yourself: “Am I more patient today than I was yesterday?” If you do, you are bound to be frustrated.

Instead, ask yourself: “Am I more patient today than I was five years ago?” If you walk with and obey Christ, the answer will be yes. The Holy Spirit is the One who grows these attributes in you; growth is inevitable as you obey him.

God is 100% committed to your sanctification. Play your part by appropriating the means of grace; healthy fruit does not grow with an irresponsible gardener. But don’t become restless when your growth doesn’t happen as soon as you’d like. The best fruit often arrives from a long season of tenderness, care, and patience on the part of the gardener. But the end result is worth it. Growth takes time.


 

About David Qaoud

David Qaoud (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary) is associate pastor of Bethesda Evangelical Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and founder of gospelrelevance.com. His work has appeared on The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Banner of Truth. He lives in St. Louis with his wife and son. Learn more>