Living the Fruits

We discus the Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control) in Building Desire. [1] Living the Fruits of the Spirit will make you desirable to your spouse. God seems to share this view.

I fully believe that we can never behave in a way that is acceptable to God without the grace of Jesus, but I also know that Jesus said, “By their fruits you will recognize them [as believers].” [2] Jesus also told his followers that they had no part in him if they didn’t live in love.[3]

While I strive to refrain from judging others, I can’t live in society without making some guesses about who can and can’t be trusted. When I see Christians living the Fruits of the Spirit, I tend to believe their profession of faith. But when I see professing Christians who aren’t living those fruits, I doubt their sincerity.

I’ve often been guilty of living a fruitless life. In our early years of marriage, I often annoyed Debby with my thoughtlessness and selfishness. A wise friend lived with us for a couple of years, and he gave me some advice: “Ned, when you’re in any kind of conflict with Debby, think about the thing you want to do next, then do the opposite.”

I initially assumed this was just another way for him to tell me I was a moron, but when I tried to follow his advice, it often worked. If I wanted to respond in anger, I instead said something nice. If I wanted to walk away, I stayed. If I wanted to agree just to get it over with, I instead tried harder to understand.

Over the years, I’ve found this technique consistently helpful. The practice forces me to stop and think, and that may be the biggest benefit. I take myself off automatic pilot and consider who I am, who she is, and our relationship with each other and God. The technique is like anti-jerk spray.

Living intentionally in this one moment is the best way to live. Being aware of the Fruits of the Spirit helps us live well, but we need to guard against making it our primary focus, making our spouse the focus, or making great sex the focus. Loving God must be our focus. When we focus on loving God, we naturally love others.

[1] Galatians 5:22-23

[2] Matthew 7:16

[3] Matthew 7:23