Here is a key truth: God produces the fruit of the Spirit in us by allowing us to encounter situations and people with characteristics that are exactly the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit.
Consider, for example, how God produces love in our lives. Loving lovely people or people just like us is easy. But to teach us real love, God puts some unlovely people around us. We learn real love by loving that cantankerous fellow at work or that pesky neighbor. God teaches us to love by letting us practice on the “unlovely.”
The same is true for peace. Anyone can be at peace in calm situations; that does not take character. God teaches us about peace in the midst of total chaos, when everything is falling apart — the phone rings, the doorbell rings, something is boiling over on the stove, the baby is crying, and the dog bites the cat. That is a situation in which we can truly learn inner peace. God works that way for each fruit he is developing in us.
IT TAKES TIME
One last point: it takes time for fruit to ripen. There is no such thing as instant maturity or instant spiritual growth. Time is essential. When you try to rush fruit, it doesn’t taste as good. Have you ever eaten gassed tomatoes? That is what you purchase at the grocery store. If farmers picked ripe tomatoes and shipped them, they would get smashed on the way to market, so the farmers pick them green and spray carbon dioxide on them just before they go to market. That gas ripens green tomatoes into red very quickly. Now, there is nothing wrong with those tomatoes. But if you have ever eaten a vine-ripened tomato, there is no comparison. It takes time for fruit to ripen. And God is going to need time to ripen the spiritual fruit in your life.
You can begin by telling God right now that you want to be a productive, fruitful Christian, that you want to cooperate with his plan. Commit yourself to reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on the Bible. Ask God to use his Word to change the way you think. Invite the Holy Spirit to have free rein in your life. Don’t hold anything back. Pray and talk with him about everything. Accept your circumstances as a part of God’s plan to change your life. Ask him to help you respond to difficult people and unpleasant situations as Jesus would. God wants to produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life. Will you cooperate with him in that life-changing process?
—God’s Power to Change Your Life by Rick Warren