It’s an interesting question. What does being a parent have to do with the fruit of the Spirit?
First we need to know what the fruit of the Spirit is.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is:
I think we can all agree that these virtues are truly the characteristics and qualities of a godly parent. They are the fruits, the results, of living in the Spirit and listening to the Spirit’s voice. The opposite of living in the Spirit would be living according to the flesh, and I think we all know only too well what it means when a mother or father are living according to their flesh – the natural inclinations and tendencies of human nature. The result is irritation, anger, harshness, unreasonable demands, selfishness, laziness, impatience, you name it. It paints a very ugly picture of a parent. Our homes should actually be a piece of heaven for our children.
Getting victory over sin
As the lucky mother of eight children myself, I was often very much in need about how to deal with my children in the different stages: babies, toddlers in their terrific (not terrible!) twos, pre-teens, teenagers and young adults. My lack of wisdom brought me into great need, and drove me to seek God in a much deeper degree, bringing me to my knees and crying out for victory to overcome the ugly things I saw in my nature.
And by God’s grace I came to victory, to His honour and praise! But a work like this does not just happen in one day. It takes time, and it is written that it is through faith and patience that we inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:12) In order to overcome the sin that comes from my human nature – irritation, impatience, frustration, etc. – I have to see it first. I see it when I am tempted to it, and that is when I get the opportunity to overcome it. It’s a process, and when I get to see those tendencies in myself, it’s not a reason to become discouraged, but rather it’s time from me to cry out to God that He will give me the faith and the patience that I need so that I can live in victory over these things. In this process, it is so good to know that we have a High Priest who has compassion with our weaknesses and that Jesus Himself “… lives to make intercession for us.” Hebrews 7:25.
Getting the fruits in my own life
But there is more to it than just not getting angry and irritated, etc. I desperately needed the fruit of the Spirit. That kindness, the longsuffering, the goodness and the deeper love etc. that I wanted to be able to give my children. I read so clearly about them in Galatians 5:22, but how do I get there?
A fruit is the result of something that has grown from a small seed to a mature, ripe, beautiful fruit, that has a delicious scent and flavour for others to enjoy. In the same way the fruit of the Spirit is a result of a small seed of God’s Word and, over time, a steady growth and faithfulness of walking in the Spirit. The scriptures say in Galatians 5:16: “I say then: walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.”
To do this I must have God’s Word in my heart and thoughts. Then when my teenagers all come home upset and venting, or my baby cries constantly, or whatever it is, then I need to draw near to God in prayer and listen to the Spirit’s voice in my heart, so that I don’t react according to my flesh, but rather show kindness, goodness, gentleness and longsuffering no matter how I actually feel. Faithfulness in this will lead to the fruit of the Spirit becoming a part of my very nature, and my children will benefit and flourish under this influence.
Just imagine a home where the father and mother are full of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. What a heavenly atmosphere for the children to thrive in, and to develop into secure, confident, loving, godly adults. Is this not what we want for our children? Does this not create a deep longing in all of us to be such a parent? So let us not only live in the Spirit, but also walk in the Spirit in our daily life. (Galatians 5:25).
And the best of it all is, that it is possible for you and me, with God’s help, to live such a life and to partake of the fruit of the Spirit in our daily life, to God’s honour and praise!