Let’s face it- fruit has been a tricky thing from the beginning.
Certainly, any of us who battle with addiction, compulsion or disorder know the power of its lure.
“...‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.’”
It goes downhill from there. Check out Genesis 3:1-24; here are a couple of fun highlights...
“‘Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.’”
“So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
But we still cannot escape fruit, especially, “fruit of the spirit.”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Human beings seem to fail miserably and often at this principle. Instead of practicing Galatians 5:22-23, perhaps, one can propose we come up with our own version instead.
“But the fruit of the OTHER Spirit is hate, despair, unease, impatience, cruelty, evil intent, fear and thoughtless destruction, concerning these there is only law.”
Now we have a problem.
Other Fruit of the Spirit Stuff
I’ve given some thought to this situation, especially concerning recovery issues.
Indeed, our own finite beliefs/pursuits often fly in the face of the original spiritual fruit, distorting and causing harm.
Hosea best states, “My people perish for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
And that’s part of the problem: we don’t know we’re doing this.
And then “suddenly,” this fruit, in the vehicle of our addictions and disordered behaviors, leaves tremendous wreckage.
So, it could be worth our while to examine just what this “other fruit” is, where it comes from and how to apply the “original recipe” of the fruit of the Spirit to it.
Other Fruit of the Spirit: Hate
We’re off to a rough start already, aren’t we?
But we do ourselves a great disservice to avoid this first attribute, as it challenges the start of the “spiritual fruit” list.
Hate often gets pain and dysfunction going like nothing else.
It often comes from a place of being hurt. And there’s no such thing as a human being who lives unscathed by pain.
“...a wounded spirit who can bear?”
And so, our frequent response to that suffering can be the outward expression of hate.
If we’ve felt unloved, rejected and abused, we go on the offensive, raging with deep self-loathing, while simultaneously attempting to self-medicate our injuries with addictive substances or behaviors. We act out because we feel hopeless to be loveable or valuable in any real way.
We have unmet need; we ARE unmet need. And it never seems to get sated.
In response to my own self-loathing and disordered issues, I’ve searched the scriptures to locate those things which Elohim actually does hate.
And here’s newsflash number one: our Creator doesn’t hate a human being.
Rather, there are certain behaviors He detests instead...
“These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: A Proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood. A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
The Most High hates the disruptive, harmful behavior we choose to engage in.
“Hatred stirreth up strifes....”
But, unfortunately, hate can all too easily become addictive for us addicts.
We pursue it largely because, on some level, we believe it to be the panacea to our pain. We believe the serpents lie, “You shall surely not die.”
And, usually, we completely block out or actively rebel against a significant, humbling truth, even regarding such a “formidable force” as us: the power of Divine love. Our counterfeit fruit is confronted.
“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”
Divine Fruit: Love
“...‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’”
This love often comes to challenge our new love, our addiction.
We feel much more comfortable with hate, Hate doesn’t ask us to change; hate asks that we keep hating- and using that in our addiction.
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
1 Corinthians 13:4-13
Hate certainly doesn’t ask us to love ourselves.
“Love your neighbor as yourself…”
Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31
And there lies a gigantic roadblock: our self-loathing.
This reality, therefore, often produces a sense of despair, being ill-at-ease.
Other Fruit of the Spirit: Despair
“My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.”
When we are either ignorant or rejecting of unconditional love, individually, personally, applicable to each of us, this anxious mindset can settle in our spirits.
Again, going back to Genesis and our old familiar serpent, never underestimate the power of doubt...
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, ‘Yea, hath God said, ‘Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’”
Doubt, a disturbance of the peace, a question mark...
And then, an outright lie, followed by a justifying explanation...
“And the serpent said unto the woman, ‘Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’”
We’re at a crossroads. Which argument do we believe?
Well, we know the Genesis answer to that question, don’t we?
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
And, after a ridiculous hide and seek game (Genesis 3:7-10), their Creator confronts them both on the choice to disbelieve Him...
“...‘Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?’”
What next follows is a cute little blame game (Genesis 3:12-13).
(So much for taking responsibility for one’s actions).
Anyway, what ultimately results is consequence, fully detailed in Genesis 3:14-19.
It’s not uplifting.
What especially drew my attention was verse seventeen...
“‘...in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.’”
It’s not just about the negative results from breaking the rules; it goes deeper.
Sorrow, emanating from doubt, has tentacles which can wrap around our lives and, in the process, steal our joy and peace. Those may not appear like big things at face value.
But when they are gone, they are mostly certainly missed.
Divine Fruit: Joy
But there is hope for us, even in spite of our doubt and sorrow...
“And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”
Joy is tailor-made for us. The question, however, remains: will we accept and apply it to our lives?
“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”
Our answer to that question is our fruit. What will it be?
Yet, often times, our fruit answer involves further unsettling anxiety- and it’s not because of Divine will.
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace...”
1 Corinthians 14:33
Rather, it’s because we have trouble with the waiting process...
Other Fruit of the Spirit: Impatience
Impatience creates damaging outcomes because we are rash, thoughtless, selfish, fearful and ignorant of our actions. We are in a fleeting, temporary moment, not considering future consequences.
And, because of that state, we often tend to scrap long-term goals in favor of short-term, instantaneous gratification.
“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”
That is a gigantic component to addiction’s payoff: “getting our fix.”
Yet, that fix, no matter how good in feels in the here and now, ultimately, has its negative consequences...
“...like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”
Okay, let’s just get right to the fruity point of things: patience is not easy.
It requires we say no to ourselves, even, in some cases, our perceived “needs.”
Patience involves suffering, discomfort and pain.
Divine Fruit: Patience
Scripture, however, does convey the merit in practicing the principle...
“In your patience possess ye your souls.”
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
So, “patience and comfort of the scriptures” produces hope? Reward enough for our human condition?
C’mon, you and I know it’s just not that simple...or gratifying.
Often, we cannot outlast the suffering in the waiting; we cave in the midst of delayed gratification. Our addiction fills our mind and eye space until it’s all we can see, feel, think and prioritize.
And this can, sometimes lead us to yet another unsavory “other fruit...”
Other Fruit of the Spirit: Cruelty
In our frustration, experiencing life’s imperfection, we can often become ruthless. All that matters is our addiction. All that must exist and remain is our addiction.
“Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways.”
“Thou shalt not kill.”
And here’s where a slippery slope lies; we will do anything and everything for it. We will lie, steal, cheat, kill, hurt and destroy. That is our response when anything or anyone dares to challenge our pursuit, practice or possession of our addiction.
This is where loved ones are sacrificed on its altar. Marriages, families, careers, health, dignity, finances and free criminal histories are just a few offerings given.
Divine Fruit: Gentleness
Yet Elohim doesn’t demand this violent expression in His love; there is gentleness instead.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
However, many of us have not had gentle experiences. Abuse, neglect and dysfunction have, perhaps, made us grow accustomed to chaos, danger and cruelty.
Therefore, in our frustration and pain, we can find ourselves resorting to abrupt, reactionary responses which attempt to meet our needs by force.
But love’s gentleness does not force its agenda; rather, it allows for Divine Creation’s to respond accordingly...
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
There is gentleness at the cornerstone of love. That is the standard we are to execute. And yes, sadly, we fall woefully short in doing so.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
Other Fruit of the Spirit: Evil intent
Furthermore, if we refuse love’s gentleness from the Most High, if we insist on following cruelty’s path, it’s not long before its twin fruit, evil intent, joins the madness.
“‘And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbor; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate,’ saith the LORD.”
Lines blur of where cruelty ends and this evil intent fruit begins. Often, for the entrenched addict, the only line of thinking is Machiavellian: “the ends justifies the means.”
So, bring on whatever means to achieve the all-important fix’s end.
And before we underestimate the consequences of our actions, let’s just take a look at how the Most High feels about our insatiable attitude...
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
Yeah, but that was a long time ago. We’re past that point, right? Right?
Even though these sentiments existed in the ancient book of Genesis, it still doesn’t change how Elohim is grieved by our treachery. And ignorance only goes so far in excusing us. The damage still happens, whether or not we realize it.
Yet, there is still hope, should we choose to embrace it.
“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”
Divine Fruit: Goodness
Psalms 23:6 is the great equalizer, displaying the pervasiveness of this fruit of the Spirit.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
It’s not dependent upon us. If Divine goodness hinged upon our merit, it’d be hopeless for everyone concerned.
“As it is written, ‘There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.’”
“...They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”
So...yeah... not optimistic here.
Yet, The Most High is good, even while simultaneously being realistic about our human nature.
Explanation? Divine Goodness trumps what should only be condemned.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
Exhibit A: the Savior...
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
Ideally, this should provide irrefutable evidence to be appreciative, loving human beings who respond correctly.
But, come on. We know the reality.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Part of the human experience involves the heart, prone to wickedness. And often, it’s driven by fear.
Other Fruit of the Spirit: Fear
For the addict especially, fear is primal.
“Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
We’re afraid of not being able to obliterate our pain.
We’re afraid of not being able to escape.
We’re afraid of discomfort.
We’re afraid of reality.
We’re afraid of seeing who we really are and what we have really done with- and to- ourselves.
“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”
And so, eventually, our fear creates a snare and a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Like Job once stated: “What I fear has come upon me” (Job 3:25).
Adding more complication, we fear letting go of our idol, the one thing we can count on in our lives to soothe, embolden and keep us functioning.
Where would we be if we dare let that thing go?
Our fear of the answer- while refusing to never face the answer- runs the show.
And here is where we are confronted with the exact nature of fear: our very real enemy.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy...”
And, with this enemy, two things are glaringly missing: love and faith...
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:18-19
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7
Divine Fruit: Faith
We can easily answer the question, what is the opposite of hate? Love.
But what about the question, what is the opposite of fear? Its answer is Faith.
And we do possess faith.
"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Faith is not passive. First, it emanates from Elohim’s love.
“We love him, because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19
Next, this faith-filled love is empowering.
“... I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
But, are we taught that? Are we taught fear or positive faith?
What we learn and how we’re taught can often translate into our responses to life issues, including faith and recovery matters. Ignorance, entrenched beliefs and harmful traditions all play a role in our own response, displayed in the last fruit.
Fruit of the Other Spirit: Reckless Destruction
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice: but what I hate, that I do.”
When we run low on things like love, positive faith, patience and goodness, recklessness often occurs.
“What’s the point?”
We ask ourselves the question, convinced we no longer care about our lives. We may even run full-throttle with our death wishes. We start to take greater chances with our families, our careers and anything else which many seem “precious” to us.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”
Yet, our spirits don’t say “die” easily; the will to live is strong.
And so, we face a dilemma: confusion in our reckless state, emanating from the opposing side...
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy...”
And before we run amuck with the reliable excuse of “the devil made me do it,” we do need to acknowledge that our addictions are a spiritual battle, one which often has us choose our ignorance and faulty belief systems over higher, healthier choices. We don’t have a clue just how damaging this can be.
After all, why, in the middle of being nailed to a cross, humiliated and tortured, did our Savior utter this plea?
“...‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’”
We don’t know what we’re doing.
Therefore, in that frightening uncertainty, we act out. There’s pain and fear in our reckless actions; there’s desperation, hatred, resentment and vengeance also.
It’s an attempt to gain some kind of rescue. Suicide, for instance, is often couched in the phrase, “a cry for help.”
“...‘Lord, help me.’”
But, we often focus on the “things” to make and keep us safe. And sometimes, that even includes destruction and chaos. We may view it as “power” instead of something harmful; we believe we’re finally taking control.
However, often, nothing could be further from the truth.
Therefore, we are in dire need of the next fruit of Elohim’s Spirit...
Divine Fruit: Self-control
This last fruit speaks to both our willingness and our capability. Whether or not we feel it, we do have the capacity for self-control. I’m not talking about going against the Twelve Steps here. Yes, we are powerless, in our addiction, in and of ourselves. But, with The Most High, “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). This, therefore, refers to the attitude which cooperates with the decision to “make another choice,” one which is spirit led.
“Let all things be done decently and in order.”
1 Corinthians 14:40
I know. It’s easier said than practiced.
Nevertheless, we are called to implement the principle. Each of us is given lessons in controlling our tempers, our appetites and our feelings.
And this is at the epicenter of addiction. To challenge the notion that yes, we can choose something else besides addiction is a scary thought.
“You don’t know what kind of day I’ve had.”
“You don’t know how hard it is to stay sober.”
Valid perspectives. Self-control never tells us it will be easy and painless.
And this is where taking care of ourselves comes into play; it’s a necessary element to self-control.
The Stewardship Principle
Stewardship is all over the Twelve Steps.
You can call it accountability or taking responsibility.
But, it still resonates with the same conclusion: we need to do things differently. Our way is not working. Hence, the wakeup call to try something else.
And, that “something else” involves the loving self-care.
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
Before we eye roll at the cliché love answer, let’s take a look at exactly what that love could mean for us. Self-control and stewardship are rooted in the attribute.
If we revisit John 15:12, we are asked a question: do we love- or hate- ourselves?
"‘ ...love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.’”
Yes, the potential for cliché is here; we are filled with self-loathing. That’s why we engage in our addiction.
But it is cliché for a reason; there is truth there.
Again, loving self-care and refusal to choose self-destruction are crucial to self-control.
“For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church. Because we are members of his body.”
We have to ask ourselves if what we are doing is best for our lives.
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”
1 Corinthians 10:23
For many of us, this is a revolutionary concept.
And self-control asks us to lovingly choose to embrace order instead of chaos, health instead of demanding craving, the reality of God’s love, extending to us instead of our self-focused hatred.
“We love him, because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19
We are encouraged to see ourselves as possessing a valuable ripple effect, either positive or negative.
And, since we are made in the Most High’s Image (Genesis 1:26-27), this resemblance showcases a Divine, real and orderly purpose to all things...
“Let all things be done decently and in order.”
1 Corinthians 14:40
Our cooperation with self-control embodies good stewardship: of our lives, our health, other people and our relationship with the Most High God.
None of these things are trivial. All of it propels us to profitable foundation.
And, this last attribute underscores the effectiveness of all the other fruits as well.
Love takes self-control...
Joy takes self-control...
Peace takes self-control...
Longsuffering (Patience) takes self-control...
Gentleness takes self-control...
Goodness takes self-control...
Faith takes self-control...
Meekness and temperance take self-control...
Couldn’t it be argued this is the essence of 3 John 1:2?
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
And it, perhaps, changes the Genesis scripture “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) a bit, doesn’t it?
What if, concerning that famous scripture, we make a shift in our thinking, from reproducing the species to reproducing the Divine fruit of the Spirit?
What if we were to ask for only this fruit, saying no to and silencing the other fruit’s impact in our lives?
The challenge lies within each of us. Do we choose life more abundant (John 10:10) or the box, labeled “other?”
It is one or the other; results depend on the box we check.
Copyright © 2019 by Sheryle Cruse