But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-24)
There is a remarkable lack of effort from fruit trees. They stand anchored to soil, draw up the nutrients, bask in the sun and then produce the fruit which is natural to them. Apple trees produce apples, and pear trees pears. Some years the branches hang heavy, other times there is a sparse scattering, but each year something grows.
Here is the imagery that the Apostle Paul is using. Rather than the Christian life being one of sheer force of will, it is in fact a question of putting down roots. As Jesus puts it in John 15:4 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me”. So long as fruit trees are well rooted, they will continue to bear fruit. Even trees which have blown over, if their roots are pretty intact, will bear something.
To “abide” in Christ, is to live a life which is shaped by prayer and the reading of Scripture. It is to allow your view of the world to be formed by this, and not the competing and clamouring voices of so many others. It is a life of faith, and faith in itself is closely linked to trust. To place trust in Christ and his teachings is to abide in Christ.
At times you may feel a million miles away from patience and self-control. Joy and peace might feel like far distant hopes. At these times the answer is not positive thinking, or sheer effort. No, times like these are calls to put down roots.