And then Dr. Corey Abney, pastor at Florence Baptist at Mt. Zion did a sermon series he titled "Rooted", on the fruit of the Spirit. One of the first things he taught was that these are not individual gifts of the spirit. When we accept Christ and the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, we are have the fruit of the Spirit (singular) in all its entirety. These are all individual aspects, if you will, of the fruit. It's not as if God gives us patience one day, and then another day we get the gift of kindness or self-control, and then He gives us faithfulness. It's an all-or-nothing package deal. Instead, we have to let these attributes blossom within us, and evince themselves more completely. They are already there, we have to let them out.
So, what is it that stunts the orchard of our soul and keeps the fruit from blossoming? Why do we struggle so often with anger, and slander and the other emotions Paul warns about in Ephesians 4:31?
I think the answer can be found in Matthew 3:8. John the Baptist is baptizing in the river Jordan, and the Pharisees and Sadducees have come to him for baptism. Look at what he tells them: "Bear fruit in keeping with repentance." So if we don't keep with repentance, we won't bear fruit. When we have unconfessed sin in our lives, that gets between us and God and stunts our growth and maturation. Instead of drawing closer to God, we feel guilty and pull away instead. So the simple, but definitely not easy, answer is that we have to continually examine our lives, and confess to God when we have sinned. Don't sit on it and wait. It's not going anywhere. Like a splinter that you leave in your finger, it will fester and get infected, and then it's that much more painful to extract later.
What in your life are you hiding from God and yourself? What is stunting the growth of the orchard of your soul? What is keeping the fruit of the Spirit from blossoming more fully in you life?
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26 (ESV)