A life of increasing contentment, resilience, and wisdom is something we’re all after. And in one way or another, most of us know that the digital age has dangerously undone some of the necessary work of such a life. But there is an ancient and timeless remedy for this undoing, a way to come up for analog air above the digital smoke.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul writes, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). He goes on to describe the result of this walking by the Spirit as the cultivation of what he identifies as the fruit of the Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22‑23 ESV).
These are not a set of disconnected, optional, pick-and-choose attributes at a Christian buffet. This isn’t an invitation to fill your life with a bit of this and that as you go along. These are the definitive characteristics of the singular fruit of the Spirit, the undeniable result of a life inhabited by God, as we patiently and steadily walk the way of Jesus. These are also not simply inner qualities meant to offer us individual comfort. The Spirit bears fruit in us so that he might bring flourishing to the world through us, one relationship and one community at a time.
Our identification as the people of God is marked by the living Spirit of God working in and through us, expressed in our relationships with one another.
Fruit is a sign of life. Living trees bear fruit. Dead ones don’t. In the same way, those who are inhabited by the Spirit of the living God will bear fruit. And, wonderfully and beautifully, the fruit of the Spirit offers us the very specific antidotes we most desperately need for the undoing we’re experiencing in the digital age.
Love, instead of self-centric despair
Joy, instead of comparison
Peace, instead of contempt
Leading to a life of contentment.
Patience, instead of impatience
Kindness and Goodness, instead of hostility
Leading to a life of resilience.
Faithfulness, instead of forgetfulness
Gentleness, instead of outrage
Self-control, instead of reckless indulgence
Leading to a life of wisdom.
Last summer, my daughter planted a seed in a small pot during a vacation Bible camp program she attended. She watered it every day and made sure to put it on the windowsill to get enough sunlight. She did everything she was asked to do. But by day three, I could see her frustration. Not much was happening. Just dirt, the same as it had been on day one. By day four, she’d lost interest. What my little girl could not accept, much less comprehend, was the inequity between rhythms and results. She was practicing the rhythm of daily watering and giving sunlight and tending to her seed. But the results she expected did not come as fast and as abundantly as she’d hoped. Shouldn’t the seed produce fruit every single time we water it?
Of course not. And so it is with the fruit of the Spirit. It will not happen overnight. Or several nights. Or months or even years. It will be a lifelong journey of watering, tilling the soil, offering sunlight, and waiting. But for all who long for a life of contentment, resilience, and wisdom, it is a journey well worth taking.
Adapted from Analog Christian by Jay Y. Kim. ©2022 by Jay Y. Kim. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press. www.ivpress.com.
Jay Y. Kim is pastor of teaching and leadership at Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, California. He also serves on the core leadership team of the ReGeneration Project and cohosts the ReGeneration Podcast. He is the author of Analog Church and Analog Christian (6/2022)