I heard something interesting on a Timothy Keller podcast yesterday (It was the one called "Peace - Overcoming Anxiety"). Amid some really great points about our souls becoming downcast because we don't expect to have to fight for joy and peace (that's a whole other blog post) he says that in Galatians the Fruit of the Spirit is singular. "For the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control..." Is. Not are. So if we are truly walking in the Spirit, we are exhibiting love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and gentleness and self-control. We can't have just a few, or we are not truly living in the Spirit.
And yes, it does sound impossible, doesn't it?
Which has me thinking about how self-reliant I actually am. "I am the vine, and you are the branches," Jesus said. "Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." To abide means to live in, to remain in, to enter into and stay. How much abiding in Jesus do I actually do?
So Mr. Keller, he says that the Greek word often used for anxious in the Bible is mérimna, which quite literally means dividing and fracturing a person's being into parts. Anxiety tears us apart. We're not living in Jesus. We're torn. We're not staying at Jesus' feet. We've got a million things on our minds and He's just one of them.
And here's what is really weighing on my heart these days: What does it look like to actually abide in Jesus and to walk in the Spirit every day? Because I get it. I see it. Apart from Him I can do nothing. But that doesn't stop me from trying. So what needs to change? How do I turn my merimna, my divided and fractured life, into singular Fruit of the Spirit? I'm not sure I have any real answers, except to make the choice for this moment to sit at His feet. To choose, just for right now, to suffer the discomfort of single-minded focus on the only One that really matters. And it is uncomfortable, because it's not the way I normally live. But it is worth it. Living in pieces is so exhausting. I'm ready to live as one with Him and bear much fruit. I'm ready for the singular life. So I'll choose today, and I'll choose again tomorrow. And I will trust the unfolding as I learn to live.