When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, you are to consider the fruit forbidden. It will be forbidden to you for three years; it is not to be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit must be consecrated as a praise offering to the Lord. But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way its yield will increase for you; I am Yahweh your God. (Leviticus 19:23-25)
We know growth takes time, but we don’t like it. We want more of the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control), and we want it now. We get frustrated when we feel like we’ve done what we’re supposed to do–“we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25)–yet we don’t see the results.
Living by and following the Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit, but it actually requires the fruit of the Spirit also. It’s a process, a continuous journey, filled with choices to yield, to wait, to trust. God develops love in us because we become familiar with His love. Our joy deepens because we begin to understand what His true joy is. We have peace as we let go of the chaos. We develop patience as we watch fruit grow, wither, drop, rot, plant new seeds, and develop fresh fruit.
Some fruit is forbidden for a season. Perhaps it needs to mature more. Or perhaps we need to mature more. Either way, we know we can trust God to increase the yield over time.