The fruit of willingness
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. (Galatians 5:22-23)
I often speak of finding 'something new' in scripture - passages I have read a hundred or more times, but all of a sudden something new comes across to me. There isn't any 'new truth' - it is just that I was finally open to seeing the truth that has always been there. What was today's 'revelation'? It began when I saw the words, "What happens when we live God's way", and came to life within me when I read those words, "We develop a WILLINGNESS to stick with things". That may not seem like much of a revelation to you, but if you have ever struggled with the 'willingness' to do what you know must be done in your life, you know how hard it is to get to the point of being totally abandoned to doing it. Your flesh is weak, as is mine, and your desires are lofty, as are mine! We desire to do things the way God expects us to do them, but we lack the 'umph' to 'get 'er done'.
The crux of this passage is the bearing of fruit - the fruit that comes not of our own doing, but because God causes that fruit to come forth in our lives. We begin to see evidence of this 'spiritual fruit' in the areas of our affections (the things we desire), exuberance for life (enthusiasm to embrace all God asks), and our serenity (the deep inner peace that guides our path). In turn, we begin to witness the development (not the instantaneous occurrence) of consistency (the willingness to stick with what God asks). If you have ever struggled with obedience in any area of your life, this may just your lesson today. Christ "killed off for good" the desire to go our own way, but we may not feel like those desires are 'fully dead' within us. How is this possible? Our 'will' hasn't seen the full maturity of the fruit God is growing within us yet, but it is growing!
The fruit God's Spirit begins to grow within us doesn't just appear fully developed - it is like the citrus on the tree. It must move from bud to tiny hints of green fruit. The green fruit grows a little bit and is challenged by the winds, cool nights, and heat of day. As the fruit begins to be nourished by the 'attachment' it maintains with the tree branch, sheltered by its leaves, it grows larger, but remains quite green. As the seasons come one after another, the fruit 'matures', but looks unchanged externally. The growth is happening on the inside long before it is evident the maturity is occurring on the outside! We change on the inside long before we see those changes manifest in outward obedience. The willingness to change (mature) begins as a tiny bud, but the fullness of the fruit may not be seen for many seasons of change within our lives. Just sayin!