Did you receive a fruit basket for Christmas this year? I don’t know that I’ve ever received one, but it sure would be a great healthy choice as a gift idea after all of the other sweets and treats. With the new year, many of us begin anew and make commitments to better health. How about we focus on making some spiritually healthy choices for our new year as well? Have you ever thought about those 9 Fruits of the Spirit? How working on them and aiming to live them out could make our body spiritually healthy? Let’s take a little refresher course.
What are the Fruits of the Spirit?
There are nine biblically-based fruits of the Holy Spirit as given by St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
How can we work on these fruits?
On paper these may look like simple and easily attained virtues, ones that we should already be living out if we are faithful Christians. Based on my own experience, however, that which is perceived as easiest can also be my stumbling block to better spiritual health.
A suggestion I have is based on how our family chose to work on the fruits over the school year this year. We chose to focus on one virtue a month as our theme, and we are going in biblical order. On the first Sunday of each month, we introduce the new fruit and discuss what it means and how we can work on it as individuals and as a family. While we work on the virtue individually during the week, Sunday evening becomes our ‘check in’ time as a family. We ask how we’ve done that week and rate ourselves (not others in the family). Some of the kids like to name specific ways they tried harder to focus on the particular fruit, or things that came up that made it more difficult to put it into practice. We’ve found it helpful to have the weekly reminder so that we refocus and continue working together to improve.
If you have a family, perhaps you could work on these fruits together or maybe you have a dear friend whom you could be accountable with and who can help you stay focused as you both work on them. If not, choosing to work on them on your own and keeping in touch with God as you work together is a great working arrangement as well.
Just like a bountiful fruit basket overflowing with wonderful fruits, you know that there are some that you prefer more than others. I’d pick a banana over an orange, because I like it just a bit better. When working on the fruits of the spirit, I may feel like I already have joy down pretty well and it comes more easily than say patience, for example. I may choose to work on those more difficult virtues more intentionally and prayerfully earlier in the year when my determination tank is still full. You will also see that working on specific virtues may work hand in hand with others or that some fruits reap a more abundant harvest with certain people in your life than others.
Having a focus or goal and resetting your determination on the Fruits of the Spirit periodically during 2017 can prove to be a wonderful addition to a more healthy you this year. If history tells me anything, I can also say that if you set out to remedy a particular vice, God will give you plenty of opportunities to grow in that area. He’ll also be readily available to help you fill your basket to overflowing with ripe and pleasing fruits.