Nobody thrives on rotten fruit. I used to think thriving as a Christian meant to behave in such a way that I’m acting like or look like a “good Christian.” You know, to love God and love others. But, I’m learning a new angle, and I see a really deep problem with that type of thinking.

You see, the problem is that I lived my life trying to live by the fruits of the Spirit. Now, you may not think that’s a bad thing, in fact, you may think it’s quite noble. The problem is that I felt like I failed. Every time. I would question God and ask myself, “Do I even have the Holy Spirit? I mean, if I had the Holy Spirit, I would love more, have more joy, more peace, right?” But, I’ve been a Christian all my life and still struggled with those things in my own selfishness, pride and bouts of depression. If Jesus was the answer, and my heart was His, why didn’t I experience those fruits more?

So, as I was praying today, I prayed that I would know what it is like to abide in Christ. That I wouldn’t find my comfort and safety and peace in my own knowledge or understanding, or my home, country or politics. The more I prayed, the more I realized I was trying to produce these fruits on my own, and that’s why I felt like I failed. Every time.

Do you do that sometimes? Do you think, “I just need to try harder, focus!” Do you pray that you would be more patient or more kind? Do you feel like a failure when you lack self-control? What I realized is that if we simply abide in God, He already is those things for us.

We abide in His love. We abide in His joy. We abide in His peace. We abide in His patience. We abide in His kindness. We abide in His goodness. We abide in His faithfulness. We abide in His gentleness. We abide in His self-control. Here’s a challenge: re-read that very slowly and soak in what that means!

As I begin to abide in Him and in His fruits, He begins to eradicate my shame of not producing those myself. Instead, He inspires me to see those things in Him! What freedom! What a true gift! You see, I had been so focused on my own behavior that I lost sight of His.

Let’s be encouraged then, to find our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, not in this world, this country, our homes, marriages, children, families, our jobs, our statuses, our finances, our opinions or emotions, and certainly not in our own imperfect efforts. Let’s not attempt to thrive on rotten fruit. Instead, let’s see these fruits in God. He is our vine, we are His branches and He never fails. Every time!

Written by Laura Martin, Small Groups Director