In this Christian life of faith, we spend a lot of time trying to become better people. We look at the Galatians 5 list of the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—and we try our best to manifest those things in our lives. Of course, that is good! We should try to develop our character and express more fruit of the Spirit in our behavior and relationships. However, while we are striving to develop that fruit and become more Christ-like people, we must also remember that there is more to it than simply trying harder.
The emphasis of our faith is not merely striving to generate certain virtues; it is getting closer to the One who is those virtues. The fruit of the Spirit is more than the qualities that we manifest as we walk in the Spirit, the fruit of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, and all the rest of the fruit. The closer we get to the One who is those things the more we naturally manifest those things.
This happens in every area of life. We become like our associations. We absorb and reflect the traits of the people that we spend the most time with. Consequently, if we are spending time focusing on and worshipping the One who is all of these great things, more of these things will naturally soak into our character and become a part of who we are. Perhaps instead of merely trying harder, we should commit to walking closer, and in this way experience much greater results from our efforts.
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)