Red raspberries, fuzzy peaches, sweet cherries, and mouth-watering melon. I love this time of year when I can sink my teeth into succulent fruit.
Galatians 5:22-23 lists the “fruit of the Spirit”. Can you list them from memory? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Before I take a brief look at these I want to shout out the most important lesson of all here. These are fruits of the SPIRIT – not YOU! You can’t produce these fruits on your own. So quit struggling to be good enough and simply surrender.
Years ago Hannah Hurnard wrote a book called Mountains of Spices (Tyndale House, 1983) where she draws a parallel from the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians to the fruit and spices mentioned in the Song of Solomon 4:12-14. How intriguing!
A garden enclosed
Is … my spouse,[considered by biblical scholars to symbolize the church]
Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
With pleasant fruits,
Fragrant henna with spikenard,
Spikenard and saffron,
Calamus and cinnamon,
With all trees of frankincense,
Myrrh and aloes,
With all the chief spices.
In Solomon’s time, due to their rich flavors and aromas, these fruits and spices graced the tables of kings. They also held significant symbolism.
For example the first mentioned is pomegranates. This fruit’s tree represents love. It was considered one of the most beautiful trees, bearing abundant fruit with healing qualities. The tree itself was said to ward off evil spirits. The deep red fruit hangs low from the trees branches, offering itself to all who wish to partake – just as Christ offered His life for all of mankind. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13, NKJV).
Henna bushes produce flowers that exude a sweet scent, representing joy. These bushes attract fluttering birds, alive with song. However, necessary for such sweetness is a bitter manure fertilizer. Out of bitterness Christ can bring the sweetest song if we allow Him to.
Spikenard, symbolic for peace, is from the root of a shrub grown in high elevations – close to the presence of God. It is used as a healing balm and fever reducer. It was spikenard Mary poured on Jesus’ feet.
Saffron is the cross-shaped stamen of a type of crocus. The first flowers of spring, they push through the cold of snow where they are exposed to harsh elements. If trampled underfoot, they spring back up. They have a unique, slightly sweet, but very strong flavor. A little goes a long way. Sounds like patience – suffering long – to me.
Calamus, from which we get calamine lotion which soothes irritations. Like kindness, it offers an welcome response to many annoyances.
Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of stately trees. It is hidden to initial observation. Sometimes goodness seems hidden too, but just as sound as the cinnamon tree, God’s goodness is sure.
Frankincense is the dried sap of trees which is burned as a sweet lemony incense. Believed in times past to ward off evil spirits, and currently believed to serve as an anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent, frankincense serves as a faithful guard to life.
Myrrh is a bitter-sweet fragrance used for embalming because it stops bleeding. Isn’t this what gentleness does? It carefully handles, soothes, and bandages bleeding hearts.
And finally, aloe trees have trunks that can grow up to three feet in diameter and have an enormous root system. With such a solid foundation no wonder they are unaffected by the elements. They are a perfect picture of self-control. And what is self-control if not foremost Spirit-control. When we are rooted in Christ, drinking deeply from Him daily, and surrendered to Him, control is much easier to experience.
Daughters of the King, we too are invited to eat such fine fruits. Has He not prepared a table before us (Psalm 23:5)? Has He not called us to His banquet (Song of Solomon 2:4)?
Servants of the King, we too are asked to serve these riches to those in our care. But we can not give what we do not have. Maybe of the fruits we feel depleted, we need to first partake.
©Cheri Johnson August 2016