By Melissa McLaughlin
The Gift of a Day
It was the perfect fall day. The leaves were beginning their autumn costume change. Glimmers of yellow, orange and red leaves flitted among the green with a tiny hint of the coming glory.
Our family arrived at the apple orchard ready for the flavorful taste of just-picked apples. As far as the eye could see were row upon row of apple trees.
Our first stop was the taste-testing area. Each of us selected our favorite and set out to find the chosen apple varieties.
Our joy at gathering a mixture of apple varieties soon presented an unwanted consequence. Apples are heavy! We filled several bags and as we peered off in the distance we spied our car, a tiny speck on the horizon. Our apple-red smiles softened a bit as we trudged along carrying our delicious, but weighty burden.
Eventually, we loaded every person, apple and sore muscle into the car to head for home. As we pulled away from the orchard we all reflected on the lovely day we had shared. Enjoying the fresh air, the bounty of God’s creation, the beauty of diversity, the joy of being alive.
The day had been a gift. A gift of simple family time. A gift of autumn’s colors and flavors.
The Gift of Growing Fruit
I thought of all the days that came before, making this gift possible. Once upon a time, many years ago, a farmer planted the apple seeds. Those apple seeds were nourished by nutrients from fertile soil, refreshing rain, clean air and plentiful sunshine. In addition, the apple seeds needed protection from weeds, rodents, insects and birds on the scout for an appetizing treat.
Once tall enough, the seedlings must be protected from deer and other animals gnawing on the bark. This diligent care must continue for some 4-7 years before an apple tree may be ready to bear fruit.
Imagine the time it took to grow just one of those apple trees. Years! Imagine the care. Imagine the days of sunshine and rain in just the right amounts. Imagine the protection, steady, undaunted and persistent. Imagine the nourishment day after day, month after month, year after year.
This one beautiful gift of a day for us, was actually the accumulation of many days of tender-loving-garden-care leading up to that one moment.
Gifts of the Spirit
Through this experience, I am reminded of the difference between the Gifts of the Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit as found in the Bible. The 9 Gifts of the Spirit: wisdom, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing spirits, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues; are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.
Clearly the Holy Spirit is in charge and the Gifts of the Spirit are given according to God’s purposes.
Fruit of the Spirit
Contrasting this are the 9 Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control found in Galatians 5:22-23.
If we are honest with ourselves, we can easily see we are no more capable of producing the Fruit of the Spirit on our own, than the Gifts of the Spirit.
We cannot conjure up more love or patience by giving ourselves a pep talk, trying really hard or wishing it to be so. The Fruits of the Spirit are Spirit-qualities. The Source of these qualities is God. The truth is, I don’t have more love or patience to give, it’s simply not in me. I need the indwelling Holy Spirit of God at work in my life, enlarging my heart and filling it with the Spirit-qualities only Jesus can give.
Fruits Are Grown
Unlike gifts, fruits are not given. Fruits are grown by remaining attached to our Source, Jesus, the True Vine, as found in John 15:1-5.
In both cases, the Bible plainly records that believers should desire the Gifts of the Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit. However, it is critical that we recognize the deep differences.
Gifts Are Given, Fruits Are Grown
The Gifts of the Spirit are given for the common good. We use these gifts to display God’s glory, to reflect His power, to strengthen believers and help nonbelievers believe.
On the other hand, the Fruit of the Spirit is grown as we remain in close connection to Jesus and invite the work of His indwelling Holy Spirit. These God-traits are the spiritual byproduct or outgrowth of our intimacy and close walk with the Lord over time. These qualities make our faith believable to others, for when we possess the Fruit of the Spirit we possess the image of Christ.
Abide in The True Vine
How do we remain personally attached to Christ, our True Vine?
1.Praise and Worship – Psalm 113:1-3 – Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, you his servants; praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. Sing or speak aloud praises to God declaring His power, goodness and love!
2.Reading the Bible – Matthew 4:4 – Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Reading the Bible daily helps plants the seeds of God’s Word into our hearts.
3.Prayer – Psalm 141:2 – May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Luke 5:16 – But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Prayer is the most important conversation we have all day. Draw near to God’s Presence through heartfelt personal prayer.
Gifts and Fruit on Display in Real Life
The Gifts of the Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit are illustrated in the life of a dear friend of mine.
My cherished friend sings with the voice of an angel while her hands slip over the piano keys with ease. This gift of music was given to her by the Lord. She is simply giving back to the Lord what He first gave her.
However, what really captures the hearts of the people is her loving, kind and generous spirit. These God-qualities, unlike her music skills, were not given. These qualities are the Fruit of the Spirit which grew in her heart as she remained attached to Christ.
Though the talents she received from God are remarkable, the Fruit of the Spirit, her Christ-likeness, is what endears her most to people.
May we keep ourselves attached to the True Vine so that we grow in His character and likeness. This way, no matter the earthly talents or Spiritual Gifts that God may choose to bestow upon us, our faith will be genuine to a watching world as we offer the delectable Fruit of the Spirit to those hungry for Christ.
If we have gifts like leadership, music, writing, teaching or preaching, may we all remember the real Source of these blessings. Without a consistent reminder of God as the Giver of our gifts, we may find ourselves on a slippery slope which leads to pride, self-reliance and an erroneous sense of self-importance.
Talents are given. Gifts are given. Fruit is grown.
Earthly talents are given. Spiritual Gifts are given. May we use these to glorify our all-powerful, miracle-working, Almighty God.
Fruit is grown. May we bear a bountiful harvest of Christ-likeness for a world starving for the true love only Christ can give.
Heavenly Father, you are the Giver of all good gifts. We praise you for You are mighty, holy, sovereign and true. You have demonstrated Your power in this world through miraculous deeds and You have demonstrated great love through the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus. Help me Lord, lay any earthly talents or Spiritual Gifts at Your feet, for You to dispense and use as You see fit. Even more, through the power of the Holy Spirit, help me stay wholly, desperately and relentlessly attached to You, the True Vine, for You are the only source of my strength and the true nourishment of my soul. As I abide in You, may the Fruit of Your Spirit grow in me, to feed the spiritually hungry with Your love and Your divine goodness. In Jesus’ name and for His sake we pray, amen.
*For an in-depth series on the Fruit of the Spirit, check out Yvonne Morgan’s blog post Bearing Fruit.
Check out my guest post titled “Gentleness – Divinely-Balanced Strength“, in a series on the Fruit of the Spirit hosted by Jennifer at Minding the Kings.
Gentleness: Christ on Display in our Every Day By Melissa McLaughlin
The 9 Fruits of the Spirit By Michael Bradley
Excellent post! Thank you!
Thank you for reading and for the words of encouragement, Valerie! Blessings!
Awesome and encouraging, praise God! My wife and kids would have loved that apple orchard too! So cool!
I appreciate your kind and encouraging words, Ryan! I can just imagine you, your wife and kids in that orchard. God’s creation is so amazing and has many lessons for us to learn. Blessings to you and your family!
I love this Melissa! What a beautiful story with a wonderful description of the fruits and gifts of the Spirit! Thank you!
Thank you, Stu, for reading my post and for offering your words of support and encouragement! I sometimes forget how very different the fruits are from the gifts of the Spirit. May we use all we have been given to glorify Jesus and draw near to Him. Bless you!
Your are welcome 🙂
I, too, often forget the different and unique they are as the Spirit does not give to all the same.
I needed this.
So true, Stu. May we encourage the talents and Gifts God has given others and rejoice in what He is doing through their lives. And at the same time be grateful for what He has given us and use it all to His glory without missing out of the most beautiful blessing of just being in His Presence.
Beautifully said! Amen!
Thank you for this beautiful post, comparing and contrasting the Gifts and the Fruits of the Spirit. Both from God, but so different in manifestation and evidence of the Lord. I think we can easily skip over the fruits, but like you said, may we look for those fruits so that we also can grow more deeply into His likeness. Our Lord is truly so good to give us everything that we need for life and Godliness! Blessings to you!
Dear Bettie, thank you for stopping by to read my post. I appreciate your kind support! I agree with your comments completely. Fruits and Gifts are evidence of the Lord in our lives. But is easy to skip over the fruits and focus on the gifts and talents that have been give to us or to others. Praise God for His goodness! May we draw near Him each day, so we look a little more like Jesus with each passing day! God bless you, Bettie!
A beautiful message! Love the photos, too. 🙂 Have a blessed day!
Thank you for stopping by and joining in! Bless you!
“May we keep ourselves attached to the True Vine so that we grow in His character and likeness. This way, no matter the earthly talents or Spiritual Gifts that God may choose to bestow upon us, our faith will be genuine to a watching world as we offer the delectable Fruit of the Spirit to those hungry for Christ.”
Amen! I think that is the part we miss. We are to be nourishing the lost and broken world around us with our fruitfulness.
I agree. It is so easy to get pulled into the hectic schedule of doing ministry based on the talents and Gifts God has given, but we miss the part of sitting at His feet. Thank you for taking the time to read and add your insightful feedback! Bless you!
PA is looks good in the fall. I am originally from Western PA. Now that I live in TX, I don’t see trees or ones that change color even.
Oh, I’m sorry. I’m sure Texas has its own special brand of beauty, but fall in PA is glorious!
yeah it is
Thanks for letting me tag along and for the insightful comparison of gifts and fruit. I hadn’t thought about the difference in this way. I too want to stay connected to the Vine.
Dear Bruce, you are so kind to take the time to stop by and read my post. Please keep “tagging along” as I do with your chorale! I am humbled by and grateful for your support. I actually think this particular message is important for those in music ministry. Oftentimes it is easy for us and others to forget that the talents and Gifts are given by God. Yes, we took music lessons and practiced, but even those opportunities are given by God. So when people hear the music they enjoy God’s gifts at work in His people. But this should never outshine the Fruit of the Spirit we are seeking to grow from the closeness of His Presence. Bless you, Bruce. You are another excellent example of someone who has used his musical talents and gifts well, but at the same time you are clearly bearing much fruit!
Melissa, what a beautiful post. I enjoyed the story of your family’s apple picking day. What special memories. I also appreciate how you delineate between how spiritual gifts are given and spiritual fruit is grown. I definitely want to be one who grows and stays connected to Jesus. 🙂
Jeanne, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts! I appreciate you stopping by to visit! For me this has been an important point to learn as it helps me remember any gifts in my life are ultimately not of my own doing. It helps me keep my view of myself in check and remember to stay strongly connected to Jesus above all. Bless you, Jeanne!
Don’t laugh, but I’m so glad this comment went through! WordPress was giving me fits. Sigh. 🙂 And yes, our gifts are not of our own doing. So well said. 🙂
No laughing here because I’m having the same problem! Glad I’m not the only one. Have a night of peaceful rest in the arms of Christ!
Hey Melissa! I just nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award! God bless you!
Ryan, I am humbled and honored. Thank you for your kindness to me!
Wow. Stu, I am humbled by your kind support and encouragement to me. Thank you and God bless!
Very nice commentary.
I’m glad you found it enriching. Thank you, Ray, for reading and commenting. Bless you!
I read this post this morning and it touched my heart. Thank you for sharing this beautiful message. Apple-picking is a grand adventure…the gospel message you drew from this experience is inspiring. It is not apple-picking season, but this was the perfect season for me to read this post!
Dear Linda, I appreciate your kind words of support! Praise God for leading you to just the right words at just the right time. I love when God gives these gentle nudges to show His sweet presence with us. May He continue to prune us, water us and give us the warmth of His Son, His Word and His Spirit that we may grow stronger and stronger in Him! Bless you!