I've had the memorized since childhood thanks to a catchy camp song, but my understanding of them and how they worked was definitely foggy. Even into adulthood, I thought that these nine fruits were simply personality traits or things I needed to strive to accomplish in my own power. When I would fall woefully short of successfully displaying them in my life, I would beat myself up, just like so many do.
But then the Holy Spirit illuminated part of Galations 5:22,23 to me as I was reading it in the Amplified version. It says, "But the fruit of the Holy Spirit (THE WORK WHICH HIS PRESENCE WITHIN ACCOMPLISHES) is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence)."
Wow! I was going at it all wrong. Instead of putting my confidence in myself, my abilities and my strength to do good (which wasn't too impressive), I should've focused on teaming up with the Holy Spirit in order for these fruits to manifest in my life.
In John 15:4,5 Jesus talks to us about what our own self reliance will accomplish. He says, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING."
This truth applies to every area of our lives, including walking in the fruits of the Spirit. Our job is to stay connected to the vine, and then the result of that connection will be more love in our lives, more joy in our journey, more peace in our minds, more patience with ourselves and others around us, more kindness displayed through us, more goodness flowing out of us, more faithfulness to God, more gentleness in our words and actions, and more self-control demonstrated in our everyday lives. I like what Gloria Copeland said, "When we focus our efforts on doing what it takes to stay in union and communion with Him, we will bear fruit abundantly."
If you ask my husband, he can tell you how even the little things used to set me off. I would get so upset and annoyed if one of the big kids would spill something or break something, even if it was an accident. I've noticed how that stuff doesn't even phase me now. At first I thought it was just the natural progression of having little kids of my own or getting used to the almost daily mishaps in our house, but that's not what it was. It was the result of abiding in the vine and the continual work of the Holy Spirit within me producing an even temper, and I know my husband and kids are grateful for that!
Let's do our part of keeping our union with God solid, and then let's allow Him to produce His fruit on our vine!