Haircut days are some of the best days.
I love sitting in the chair, making small talk with my stylist-turned-friend and knowing that, when I stand to leave, my hair will be better for the time I spent with her. I have no problem showing up with a dirty bun piled high on my head, no issue relinquishing creative control while we chat. I am perfectly willing to come as I am and let her do the work. We have a relationship, she and I, and I trust her to do magical things with my wayward locks. Seeing as how she is the professional and I am not, barging into our appointment and taking control of the scissors would be a bad move on my part. Trying to commandeer a process I don’t fully understand would not only be silly, it would have unfortunate and unsightly consequences. (My one and only attempt at a self bang-trim was sufficient proof of this.)
My hair stylist, though lovely, is not the Holy Spirit, so the metaphor only goes so far. But as I read today’s text, it’s clear the Me who seeks to be a fruit-bearer for the Kingdom could stand to take a few tips from the Me who sat in the salon chair two days ago. I don’t want to insist on creating my own goodness; I want to learn the art of trusting the only One who is truly good.
In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul states the clear contrast between our rotten, self-made fruit and the good, God-made and God-pleasing fruit of the Holy Spirit:
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:19-23, HCSB)
Until we repent of our sinfulness and lean wholly on the perfection of Jesus, we humans remain stuck in the cycle of that first list, powerless to break free. Even works of flesh we believers call “good” cannot gain us entrance to the Kingdom of God. But when we call out to Christ for salvation, we receive mercy, forgiveness, and freedom—and we receive the Holy Spirit, a gift promised by Christ Himself.
Take a look at John 14:15, when Jesus issues His disciples a tall yet serious order: “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.” Easier said than done, they may have thought. But Jesus doesn’t stop there; He explains how they are to keep His commands. This is more than a to-do—this is His Spirit at work in them!
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.
He is the Spirit of truth… I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.”
(John 14:16-17, 26)
Jesus knows us all the way through. He knows our forgetful hearts. And in His grace He leaves His very Spirit to be our helper, our comforter, our advocate. This is Christ’s gift to us, the far-off ones, bringing and keeping us close to God—not a “reach out and touch you” kind of close, but closer still. As close as our own breath is the Spirit of Christ to us. That is not mere hope or speculation, that is a promise from God’s Word! (See Romans 8:9-11.)
Friends, those good things Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23 are not borne of our best efforts. The fruit of the Spirit is borne only of the Spirit. Only by abiding in Him, resting in His goodness and trusting Him to do the hard work of redemption on our behalf, can we bear fruit.
As we begin these 12 days of discovering the Spirit’s fruit as presented in Scripture, let’s repent of every bit of goodness we’ve tried to squeeze out on our own. Let’s lay down the fruit we’ve tried to produce with good intention, self improvement and striving, and let’s see God as the source of everything good. May we hide and abide in the perfect life and love of Christ.