I’ve always been a performance-oriented person. Show me the numbers! I want to see stats! Even in Christian ministry work, the “fruit” is often measured in numbers of people helped, children fed, or people who came to know the Lord.
We’ve even come up with ratings for motherhood success:
- Are your children breastfed?
- Do they eat avocados?
- What team sports are they in?
- Are they in advanced classes at school?
- Does your Instagram feature furry white carpets with no jam on them?
- How many Bible studies do you lead?
- Do you homebrew your family’s kombucha?
But what does the Bible have to say about our stats, about the fruit in our lives? Well, Paul says in his letter to the Galatians:
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)
So how can we measure the fruit of the Spirit? We can’t line it all up in rustic bushel baskets that match our Instagram aesthetic. It’s not like we can chart it: “Monday, I harvested 20 large, perfect, patience fruits. All the hard work is worth it when you see the results!” #blessed
And yet it’s so obvious when you spend time with someone, whether they are loving, joyful, hopeful, and patient.
When I was a kid, we didn’t have a garden, at least not in the traditional sense of seeds planted in rows, carefully hoed and weeded, nurtured into maximum fruitfulness by a lot of work. But we did live in the rainforests of Belize where food grew everywhere you just had to know where to find it!
Nearly every meal, my mom would send us kids out to find some flavorful herbs, or maybe a few mangos, or a coconut! If we wanted a snack, we didn’t go begging for food in the kitchen; we ran outside to find some green plums or juicy oranges, which we dipped in a mixture of salt and dried chili pepper. (Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it!)
Even my own city kids learned a lot about growing food this year with a few vegetable plants I grew around the backyard (and kindly reminded my husband to weed about seventy times a day!) But the work was worth it when I could tell them to run out and pick a cherry tomato for a snack!
All of this got me thinking — fruit can grow in so many different circumstances. Food grows in the wild, and it can grow in a carefully tended garden. But what about the fruit of the Spirit? How does that fruit grow? And how do we find it?
Here’s what I realized…my kids are foraging for fruit in my life aaaall day long. Climbing the tree and knocking off some joy fruit! Digging a hole in the mess they created on my kitchen floor and discovering patience fruit! Running to me when they bump something just looking for some love fruit to make them feel better.
The Fruit of the Spirit will grow naturally when we are in relationship with the Divine Creator.
My fruit of the Spirit trees and vines may not look like yours on the outside. You might have a nicely landscaped bed in the front yard, and maybe mine looks like a jungle full of vines; but as moms, when our kids come foraging for “fruit” — when they’re all up in our business interrupting our scroll, interrupting our cooking, refusing their distance learning homework — what kind of fruit are they finding? Are we connected to the Holy Spirit? Is that the fruit that falls off when our branches are shaken?
If so, don’t worry about the “mom stats.” The fruit you bear is what really matters, not your accomplishments.
Anita Matta grew up in Belize as a missionary kid. She has lived in 3 countries and traveled on 5 continents but can’t resist the allure of subzero winters so she now lives in MN with her Egyptian husband and two daughters. She blogs about God, motherhood, disability, and appreciating beauty at anitamatta.com, and pretends to be trendy by posting pictures of coffee as @anitafmatta on Instagram.