“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22)
Galatians 5:22 identifies godly attributes or “fruit” that results from the Holy Spirit working in the lives of believers. Just as the maturity levels of Christians differ, the degree of fruit bearing varies as well. It has always been apparent to me that my uncle Pete was a very loving man. He enjoyed a good time and you could just sense his joy being around him. As a kid, I remember never being able to get too comfortable when he was around because I didn’t know what prank he might pull next. I was the target of quite a few. Though more infrequent as a result of me living so far away as an adult, he still played pranks. My son, Logan was often the targeted recipient. I speak about my uncle in the past tense because a year ago today, June 5, 2011, the Lord called him home.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control…” Paul’s purpose in writing Galatians was to deal with the false idea that a believer’s right standing before God was Jesus plus circumcision. Today, this manifests as Jesus plus something (good works, baptism, church membership, etc.). The true gospel is that salvation is found in Christ alone. In this specific section of his letter, Paul contrasted the works of the flesh, works that result from fallen humanity, to that which result from being led by the Holy Spirit.
As people streamed by during the visitation to offer their condolences, there were numerous expressions about the love and kindness Pete had shown them. Just as living distance had lessened the pranks, distance had also kept me uninformed of these things. I knew the attributes described in this passage existed in my uncle, but it was not always clear as to their source. That was until I saw it with my own eyes, heard it with my own ears and felt it in my own heart. Pete never claimed to be an Evangelist. That’s not to say he shied away from conversations about the Lord. I’m sure they occurred. But what was evident to me from being at the visitation was that Pete lived out the implications of having Christ in his life. Isn’t it the case that we testify more with our actions than with our lips simply because more people observe us than actually encounter us? Make no mistake, there is plenty of room and need for both. A godly testimony by our life often leads to an opportunity to testify with our lips.
Just as Pete himself was a gift in the lives of so many, the outpouring of love and expressions of gratitude for what he meant to others is a gift that the Lord left to those Pete loved the most. Pete Leonard bore the fruit of the Spirit. As with all Christians, some was seen and some wasn’t. Let your life be filled with the Spirit of God that you may bear much fruit. Don’t be concerned with how much is seen by others; just know that God sees it all. He saw Pete’s and as He took him to his real home, where he will live forever, He allowed those that love Pete the most to have been blessed to see more than they might have imagined. So though we love and miss him deeply, we know that it’s the Lord, the giver of all good gifts, we have to thank for having had Pete Leonard in our lives. Thank you God!
Dear Lord, thank you for the testimony of other people in our lives. Thank you for people who love, who have joy and who express so much kindness to those they come into contact with. Soften our hearts to the work of your Spirit in each of our lives. Help us to live in your power each day that we would bear much fruit. Thank you mostly for the perfect gift that you have given us, your Son, Jesus Christ. It is being “in Him” in which we receive our greatest blessings. Amen.