Have you ever seen a monkey-face orchid? If not, stop reading here and go look it up. Seriously, stop and Google it. I’ll wait.

OK, now that you’ve seen it, is this not the most amazing, hilarious, crazy flower ever? Here’s the deal: the monkey-face orchid can only grow from the monkey-face orchid seed. I cannot plant an avocado seed and expect a monkey-face orchid to sprout from the ground.

The same is true of the believer. When we are not connected to our source of life, Jesus, we cannot bear the fruits of the Spirit. I grew up learning the fruits of the spirit in Sunday school and at summer camps and, to this day, I can still sing the whole song (feel free to Google this as well). But it wasn’t until well into adulthood that I really began to grasp the amazing promise found in Galatians 5:22-23.

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

I used to think that these were a way to test whether my faith was strong enough. If I wasn’t kind enough or patient enough, I assumed that meant my faith was weak, and I’d somehow disappointed God. I strove to live out these attributes on my own accord because I thought that was what God wanted me to do.

As I grew in my faith and began to experience true fellowship with Jesus — you know, spending time with him, learning his Word, learning to listen to his voice — I soon realized that, when I am abiding with him, these fruits are the natural byproduct of my life! I am far more patient, kind and joy filled when I am in the Word than when I am not, and I don’t even have to try hard to make it happen. (Don’t believe me? Ask my family or close friends. I’m a far more pleasant person to be around when I’m abiding with Christ).

“I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
— John 15:5

I no longer view the fruits of the spirit as a test of my faith. Rather, I see them as a gift that God gives when I abide in him! My ability to love well, to be joyful in the midst of hard circumstances, to remain patient on hard days, these are not a testament to anything that I have done, but rather a testimony of God’s faithfulness in my life.

My hope today is that none of us would strive to be monkey-face orchids (because let’s face it, they are creepy), but that we would all be reminded that God creates amazingly unique and beautiful flowers. And amazingly unique and beautiful people, who can only live out their full potential when connected to the source of life.