Next door to my childhood home, our neighbor had an ugly, brown tree that looked barely alive. The tree looked like nothing more than a collection of dead branches; but then, out of nowhere, something amazing and unexplainable would happen–a shiny, red piece of fruit would appear–a perfectly round, delicious-looking pomegranate.
How did that nasty old tree produce this one piece of perfect fruit? No one knows. Our curmudgeonly old neighbor never even watered the tree; my mom and I took pity on it and watered it ourselves. We cared for the neglected and abandoned tree as if it were ours. Maybe it was the nourishment of the water that provided the energy to produce that pomegranate. It always came as a surprise to see a vibrant piece of fruit hanging from the brown branches of the tree.
Not of Us, But of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit is similar to that pomegranate in that its fruit doesn’t emanate from us; we lack within ourselves the energy and will to produce beautiful fruit on our own. We need the input and nourishment that comes only from the Spirit.
Nourishment Through Prayer
Prayer is the means by which we have access to that nourishment. I guess you could say prayer gives us the nourishment we need to produce fruit the way that the garden hose is the vehicle by which the tree gets its nourishing and life-giving water. I am afraid we, as Christians, try and work harder, and be better, when the one thing we really need–the vital thing–is prayer. Prayer is not a last resort when we are losing patience or finding it really hard to love someone; rather, prayer must be our first line of defense with every new day. We will only be characterized as those who manifest the fruit of the Spirit when we pray for that Spiritual source of life and Godliness.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).