But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. —Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

As I read this scripture, I thought to myself, “Girl, you’ve got some work to do!” I remembered a sermon I recently heard. The speaker quoted a beautiful Twitter post by J.D. Greear, saying, "You don’t grow fruit by focusing on the fruits. Fruit happens naturally when the roots are deep and healthy". The fruit is the outcome of investment in the source. You can’t force an outcome; you can only nurture the place it begins. This is true in so many circumstances. We can’t ensure people will love us; we can only treat them the way we want to be treated. We can’t guarantee that our children will grow into happy, successful adults, but we can pour our hearts into teaching and loving them. We don’t know whether we’ll get that promotion we’ve been after; instead, we can only do our best at work every day. We can’t control results, but we can control our investment.

When it comes to the fruits of the spirit, we can’t just jump to the end result. We wouldn’t expect tiny sapling to produce beautiful fruit; instead, we would nurture it with intentional time, love, and attention so it could grow into something magnificent. Similarly, we have to invest in our spiritual lives if we want them to bear fruit.

Here are some ways to invest in your spiritual life so that it can produce beautiful fruit;

Love: It’s not very romantic, but the truth is that “love at first sight” isn’t real. True love takes time and work. Take that time to talk with God and get to know Him. Love is Jesus’ most important commandment, so it is deserving of every minute it takes to help it grow.

Peace: Do you try to find peace from your circumstances? If you have, chances are you haven’t been very successful, at least not for long. One of the first things I remember about the day I put my faith in Christ was the sense of peace filling my heart. It was as though someone had lifted a heavy burden from me. To find real peace you have to know where to look: God.

Patience: We live in a society that promotes instant gratification, so we get frustrated when we have to wait for things. But God’s timing is perfect. Ecclesiastes 3:7 says, “He hath made everything beautiful in His time.” We cannot know the workings of the Lord, so it is important to trust in the delay.

Kindness: People can often take kindness for weakness, but there’s nothing weak about being kind to others. We are tools to extend God’s loving-kindness and mercy to the world. We are His hands and feet, and we spread the Kingdom of God when we show kindness to others.

Goodness: The book of Genesis tells us that God only creates good things. If we live by His Word and work to spread his love, we can begin to live up to what He created us to be.

Faithfulness: In John 20:29, Thomas had to see the risen Jesus for himself to believe that he was really the Lord. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing.” Sometimes it seems against human nature to believe in something we cannot see, but we must allow our belief and trust in God and the teachings of the Bible to shape our thoughts, speech, and actions.

Gentleness: We constantly have to remind young children to be gentle. They can allow their emotions to overwhelm them: hugging the puppy too hard or playing too roughly with friends. As adults, we learn the importance of self-control. In a similar way, as we grow in our spiritual lives, we learn to emulate Jesus by responding to others with compassion.

Are you at 10%, 50%, or 100% in your fruit productivity? What matters most is that you continue to invest in the foundation of all spiritual fruits: your relationship with God.