Goal: To understand how your spiritual growth process has parallels with natural growth processes.
The definitions of the Nine Fruits of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control) and the Ten Descriptors of Agape Love (a person who Loves, Esteems, Cherishes, Respects, Favors, Honors, Accepts, Prizes, Relishes and demonstrates Devotion) appear later in this “Spiritual” subsection. Growing these (and other) values, virtues, characteristics, and behaviors in the 7 Core Areas of your life are simple and achievable, especially when you consider your spiritual growth parallels the natural growth processes you’ve seen and experienced with the daily work you’ve done in your own backyard garden. Let me explain.
1. The “Garden” to produce the Fruit is your Mind: The word picture for our English word “Energy” (Energes) is freshly plowed land. Have you heard the phrase “the land is teeming with energy?” The parallel is your mind. No matter who you are, if you have breath in your body then your mind possesses the ability to grow and produce spiritual, cognitive and relational behavior that’s fruitful.
2. There could be some cleaning up to do as you begin your work: Galatians 5:19-21 reveals “contaminants” which could complicate if not sabotage your effort to grow the very fruit you wish to produce and enjoy. Which are in your life and how are they compromising your growth process? Don’t hesitate to seek help to remove these “toxic weeds and rocks” if they’re embedded in the soil of your heart and are neutralizing your effectiveness and robbing you of valuable “garden space” inside your mind that God wants to use to grow fruitful behavior and fruitful outcomes!
3. You have the best “Counselor” or Helper available to assist you in your clean-up and growth process: Remember, this is the Fruit of the Spirit, which infers there’s a power greater than yourself (Step Two) who’s available to consult, counsel, cleanse, remove, fertilize and empower your whole growth process. Don’t think you need to produce this fruit by yourself. Be encouraged because you have a Higher Power who wants to partner with you to create success in every season of your life to produce these and other positive characteristics! Remember Step Six (“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”) and Step Seven (“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings”). If your God is for you, who or what could be against your growth (Romans 8:31)?
4. Finally, God provides insight regarding your growth process in the scientific work of Phytoremediation: Phytoremediation (my article and the Wiki entry) is an environmentally sound technology in which plants are used to remove, detoxify or immobilize environmental contaminants in the soil and in water, while simultaneously providing nutritious and edifying vegetables to strengthen us and others. Plants belonging to the Cruciferae family work the best and are so named because they have a corolla of four petals arranged like a cross. A verse in the book of James sums up the “crossover” parallel regarding your growth and fruitfulness: “Humbly accept the word planted in you which can save you” James 1: 21 (TNIV)
Suggested Activity: Plant flower or vegetable seeds in a pot or your backyard. Follow instructions to ensure their growth (water, fertilize, etc.) to maturation. Identify characteristics you’d like to grow similarly.
Skill you’d like to develop?
Next: The “66%/33% Solution (Part 1 of 3) or return to the Table of Contents.
Thanks for reading this excerpt from Cultivating Love: Wisdom for Life. As time permits, please visit the other blogs written by Dr. Ken McGill: Daily Bread for Life and “3–2–5–4–24″ for additional information that could be helpful.