The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted.
I remember a wise priest who once told me, “When you point your finger at someone, you often fail to notice that there are three fingers pointing back at you.” Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:3-5, “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
We clearly cannot encourage others to grow Fruit of the Spirit if we are not growing Fruit in our own lives. We cannot be ready to help one another if our own house is not in order, so to speak. And we should not look for the impurities or shortcomings in the Fruit of others without first critically looking at our own need to grow our own healthy Fruit.
In John 15:2, Jesus tells us that “every branch of mine that bears no fruit, He (God) takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” It is interesting that growing fruit does involve killing parts of the tree. In fact, you can’t grow good fruit year after year without pruning. On the surface, pruning seems like a negative, because you are taking the mass of your plant and destroying some of it. But when you do this, the tree comes back even stronger and with better fruit. Humility is needed to “prune” our souls, to admit that parts of us need to be cut back and then allow the process of improved growth to follow.
The only way to avoid the things mentioned in the previous verses – not having self-conceit, not provoking one another, not being envious of one another-is to continually look within ourselves, prune the parts of us that need pruning, so that we are ready to not only grow in the Spirit but can avoid the pitfalls that prevent good growth from occurring.
This is why confessing sins in our daily prayers is important. Because it is a daily reminder and acknowledgment of what we are doing wrong and where we need to improve. And periodic participation in the sacrament of confession is also important because it allows a priest to guide us, to pray for us, and to share in our burdens and assist us in pruning our souls so that we can grow even stronger in our faith in Christ.
We can only be clean on the outside if we are clean on the inside. And we can only grow in the Fruit of the Spirit if we are continually pruning the “trees” of our souls.
Lord, thank You for the gift of forgiveness which You so freely give to us. Please help me to prune away bad habits and tendencies that I have (list some of them). Please help me to control negative growth in me, give me the humility to prune away bad part of me, and the humility to let others help in my pruning as well, so that I may grow ever stronger in faith and ever better in producing the Fruit of the Spirit in me. Amen.
Examine yourself for ways to do better today!