But the fruit of the Spirit is …
[May I have the envelope, please] …
Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Earlier this year, we had some fun with the ever-popular movie, The Princess Bride. We also found much in the story that could inspire spiritual growth and understanding. So, in the waning days of 2016, we’ve chosen a popular line from that story to help us capture how we want to go out of this year and into the next. We want to remind ourselves of all the resources we have at our fingertips through the Spirit of God who dwells within us. And we want to focus on God’s attitude of giving, which can be best captured in Westley’s response to any request made by his true love: “As … you … wish.” Most specifically, we’re going to be focusing on the fruits of the Spirit that are God’s evidence to us of His working in us, and as available to us as asking and acting as if we have them because we do.
Described as the fruit of the Spirit, we immediately get the idea that none of these qualities are anything we can produce ourselves, as in: “Okay guys, the fruit of the Spirit is love, so lets get out there and be more loving!” God and His angels are not a cheerleading squad. Nor are we trying to push more love out of our lives, like a fruit tree with a small, under-grown ball of fruit, trembling on the branch as it tries to get bigger. Fruit is a natural result of a healthy tree.
But because it is a fruit of the Spirit, love is something we can call on when we need it; and you know what? God will answer, “As you wish.” (Can you imagine God ever denying a request for more love?)
True love is the main theme of The Princess Bride. It is the driving force behind the whole story. It brings Westley back to Buttercup. It keeps them hoping against all hope that their love will prevail against Prince Humperdinck’s evil plan. It keeps Westley only “mostly dead” when he should be all dead. It gives him courage to face Prince Humperdinck. True love makes him able to do impossible things.
God’s love is the driving force behind the universe. It’s why all this was created, to provide a setting for God to love His creation, and mostly us: human beings made in His image. He even let His creation go away from Him so we could be involved in the choice to respond or not respond to His love.
God’s love is why you were created. It’s also why everyone around you was created so God could love them through you. So God loves, and He wants to love through you, and He’s given you love as a fruit of His Spirit in you. If you’re having a hard time loving, ask Him to give you the love you need. I have a feeling I know what His answer will be … “As you wish.”
This topic couldn’t be coming at a worse time for me, personally (or best time, if I’m going to do something about it). I know the Christmas season inside and out, especially from the perspective of the church. I grew up with all of it. The choirs, the carolers, the pageants, the cards, the special performances … it all adds up to a lot of pressure to be joyful. And then there are the gifts, the expectations, and the money required to pull it off. That’s my downfall. Scrooge’s miserly counting house is more like what goes on in my head while I tick off how I’m going to pay for everything. So where’s the love? It’s hard to love when you resent what it’s going to cost you. Instead of lavishing my love on my family, I’m barely breathing from sucking up the air and hardly letting it out.
How can I turn this around? Well, based on what I’ve just written and you’ve just read, I am asking God to stir up my love for my family. I’ve got plenty of it; it’s hanging on my tree. And then I will let that drive me to do whatever I can do to share my love with them in tangible ways, letting the love drive the gift rather than having the gift snuff out the love. “As you wish” is God’s attitude towards me; so in like mind, “As you wish” is my attitude towards those I love.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, against which there is no law.