Being 'the fruit of the Spirit'
We find ourselves to be the outcome of God.
From the time I was very young (knee-high to a grasshopper, as they used to say in the American Midwest), I have been familiar with the answer to the question “What is man?” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (p. 475). I learned it in Christian Science Sunday School. But I never feel I’m familiar enough with it, and I’m always discovering more of what it means to be “the compound idea of God, including all right ideas.”
In fact, recently I counted in the full answer at least 19 references to man as idea, reflection, image, or likeness. In particular, I was struck by how clearly man is defined in Christian Science as God’s idea—the idea of the divine Mind. It also stood out to me that this means man is not the one doing the thinking so much as the idea being known or expressed by God, the one divine Mind.
It takes some considerable humility to let the full implication of this sink in. What does it mean that we are not the source of our thinking but the expression of God—His thoughts and representatives? Well, for one thing, it implies that we are not really the ones with the responsibility for figuring things out, which also means that we’re not the ones who get the credit for personal accomplishments. We’re the effect of the cause, and we embody, are made up of, what the King James Version of the Bible calls “the fruit of the Spirit.” The International Children’s Bible words it this way: “The Spirit gives love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong” (Galatians 5:22, 23).
It can take some mighty wrestlings with a sense of human ego to let go of taking either responsibility for being in control or personal credit for successes.
I caught a glimpse of what all this means one day when I was in a line at the post office. A new clerk was being trained, and a small sign had been placed on the counter, saying, “Please be patience, new clerk in training.” I think they meant to write “be patient,” but the typo helped me. I almost laughed out loud when I realized the joy of what it would mean for me or for anyone to stop trying so hard to be a person who is patient and instead yield to being the quality of patience.
This attitude puts us in the position of being all about God, and so being Godlike. We find ourselves to be the outcome of God, so quality control is enforced by our relation to “the only I, or Us” as Mind is defined in part in the Glossary of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health (p. 591).
What a relief it is to be the effect of this one Mind, one cause, and to be released from trying to make ourselves loving, joyous, or patient! We are freed from an imperfect sense of self that is flawed and finite from its very premise. Since man is not the Ego, author, or creator, any attempt to assume these functions must fail. We would live perpetually with self-condemnation because, no matter how hard we’d try to be good, we would find ourselves always falling short.
Sounds simple enough to just yield and let God be God, right? And yet, pretty much all of us have found it can take some mighty wrestlings with a sense of human ego to let go of taking either responsibility for being in control of things or personal credit for things that have been a success.
So is there a secret to how to yield? Yes. It’s humility. And this brings us back to “the fruit of the Spirit.” Each of the attributes in the “fruit of the Spirit” list in Galatians involves living and breathing humility. Together, they define man’s character as the expression of Soul, God. As we humbly embrace identification with each of these attributes of God, we find ourselves better able to feel our true identity in perfect accord with God as His immediate expression or reflection. Then there’s much less resistance, because “there is no law that says these things are wrong”—there is no pushback. There’s no personal sense to say to worthwhile endeavors, “I can’t,” “I don’t want to,” or “This is too difficult.”
I’ve had many examples of the powerful healing effect of yielding to God’s good will. At one point I was called to pray with someone in great need, but I had struggled with disliking this individual. Now here I was, face to face with the Christian demand to see them clearly as the image or idea of God in order to be a witness to their God-given harmony and health. But I could not get past my thoughts about their disagreeable personality and past behavior. I could have turned down the request for prayer, but instead I saw it as an opportunity for healing not just for the caller but also in my own character.
Acknowledging that we embody “the fruit of the Spirit” sharpens and clarifies our capacity to know and experience divine reality.
As I reached out to God for the inspiration that would transform self-righteous judgment to
a sense of the divinely righteous judgment, a surprising question came to thought: “Are you willing to be the fruit of the Spirit?” I discerned immediately that if I remained the judge, it would be hard to embrace this person’s innate wholeness. I also recognized that since I—as much as this other individual—included all the beautiful attributes of Spirit, God (“all right ideas,” per the description of man quoted earlier), including the ability to behold and delight in the fact of everyone’s God-reflecting wholeness at all times, I could not possibly hang on to a human opinion. Furthermore, I understood that accepting my nature as God’s compound idea—as we all can do—also meant seeing that this is the relationship of all of God’s children to God. Therefore, the individual who had asked for my help was also the full representation of divine Love, God, including all of Love’s attributes. The release of personal opinion then came effortlessly, and I was able to pray with deep and certain results for this dear person. Their healing came quickly.
Acknowledging that we embody “the fruit of the Spirit” does not make us mindless automatons. It sharpens and clarifies our capacity to know and experience divine reality and to be free from the confusion of the innumerable crosscurrents of personal viewpoints and judgments. It lifts the burden of trying to sort through all the vicissitudes, the human pros and cons, of any situation, and enables us to respond to what God knows.
We spend less time on self-justification or seeking validation from others when we feel the steady and constant assurance of being the glorious goodness of God expressed.