Can I interest you in something Ugly? Oh, wait, I meant to say Ugli. That’s the name of a delicious Jamaican fruit, so-called because of its wrinkled skin and pock-marked texture. It looks like it is rotting. As a cross between a grapefruit, an orange, and a tangerine, Ugli fruit has a sweet and juicy pulp that’s winning fans every day. It was discovered growing wild in Jamaica in 1924, and has since become one of the island’s most popular exports.
If you’re not interested in an Ugli, what about an Ugni? That’s a totally different kind of fruit—a small purplish-red berry-like fruit native to Chile and Bolivia. Its flavor resembles a slightly tart strawberry.
Have you ever eaten a Farkleberry? What about a Mangosteen, which is a tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia?
Uglies, Ugnis, Farkleberries, and Mangosteen are some of the more exotic varieties of fruit showing up at our grocery stores and farm stands. We’ve never had less reason to eat junk food. Our fruit markets are becoming cornucopias of world produce and providing an endless supply of not only our familiar apples and oranges but an array of stranger fruits—like Indian prunes, Indonesian limes, and Chinese Monk’s Fruit (named for ancient Buddhist monks who were inordinately fond of it). The list of available fruits seems almost endless—especially when you consider that every fruit (like an apple) also has an endless line of varieties (like Gala, Cortland, Red Delicious, Winesap, and Granny Smith—and yes, there really was a Granny Smith).
We can thank God for it all. He long ago said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth,” and it was so (Genesis 1:11).
A Shorter List
When we talk about spiritual fruit, we have a smaller list to consider. Our heads don’t spin with a thousand kinds and varieties. In the inventory of the “Fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5, the Lord only gives us nine items. If we had hundreds of “fruits” we might feel overwhelmed, but we can deal with nine. We can memorize the list quite easily and begin to reproduce them in our own lives. Galatians 5:22-23 says that the fruit of the Spirit is:
The word “fruit” in this verse sets up a powerful series of metaphors that extend throughout Scripture. God is pictured as a gardener. We’re to be rooted and grounded in Christ (Colossians 2:7; Ephesians 3:17), abiding in Him like vines (John 15:4), planted by rivers of water (Psalm 1), and letting the sap of the Holy Spirit produce in us the characteristics of a Christian personality like fruit on a tree or vine (Ephesians 5:9).
We’re to produce fruit, more fruit, and much fruit (John 15:2, 5). We’re to bear fruit unto holiness (Romans 6:22) and be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:11). God’s children are to be fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10). Psalm 92 tells us that God’s children will still bear fruit in old age; they will stay fresh and flourishing (verse 14).
This line of analogy runs through God’s Word. When He created the physical and spiritual realms, He used a similar pattern. We can detect a brilliant correspondence between the physical and spiritual worlds, and we can illustrate the latter with the former. This is why physical concepts such as light, water, fire, and fruit present so many spiritual lessons to us in Scripture.
This is the list of the nine great attitudes that marked the personality of Jesus Christ. When asked to describe what Jesus was like during His earthly ministry, we can do no better than list these nine traits. And they represent the nine great qualities the Holy Spirit wants to reproduce in us.