When we “eat” the Word of God what are we eating? We ‘re eating manna from heaven, God’s words of abundant and eternal life, the fruit of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit” is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-24). That’s fruit that is good for the soul!
All of us are hungry for God — more than we know! Realizing this is the key to our lives. This is why our Lord Jesus said that if we wanted to be his disciples we needed to eat his flesh and drink his blood (John 6:53-54). We commemorate this in the Lord’s Supper.
Re-Think your Approach to Eating
To feed on God may require that we change our relationship with food. We talk about certain foods being “comfort foods”, but we need to be careful about that! We may be misusing food to meet emotional needs for comfort, love, or energy or we may eat to cope with stress, conflict, or depression. Overeating is the most common way of using food as a source of comfort. Others develop compulsive patterns of binge eating, bulimia (binging and purging), or anorexia (not eating nearly enough).
The key to overcoming compulsive eating patterns is learning to take our struggles and needs to the Lord, apprenticing ourselves to Jesus and growing to trust him through Scripture and our relationships with one another in the body of Christ. Of course, an essential part of this learning may be participating in psychotherapy and/or a recovery group.
Jesus was announcing the Good News — the best news!! — when he said, “Repent for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). What he’s saying is, “Re-think how you’re living your life today in light of your opportunity to live in the kingdom of the heavens that is here in your midst.”
So if we’re overeating Jesus might say to us, “Think about how you’re using food to deal with uncomfortable emotions and needs. This isn’t working. Instead of relying on food as your source of well-being look to the kingdom of God. Become my disciple and learn from me how to live your life as I would live it if I were you. You’ll discover that all your needs and longings will be met.”
The Fruit of the Spirit as Soul Food
Our souls long for God and the fruit of his Spirit. It’s the Lord himself — not his gifts, but knowing him through interactive relationship with Christ — that is our portion.
Consider the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23. These nine characterisitics summarize God’s way of being and relating with us. Each blessing is connected to the others — its not nine fruits, but one fruit with nine characteristics — when you’re loved you’ll be joyful and when you’re joyful you’ll be at peace and when you’re at peace you’ll be patient and so forth.
Often we tire of caring for others. Feeding on the fruit of the Spirit enables us to share this soul food with others, blessing them as we’ve been blessed. This is when “it’s more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Bible Verses on the Fruit of the Spirit
Try meditating on the following Bible verses that put all nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit right out on the table for us to eat and then pass out to others who are hungry! (All verses are from the NIV84 unless indicated otherwise.)
Love: “He guards [his people] as the apple of his eye” (Deuteronomy 32:10). “But God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).
Joy: “He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17b).
Peace: “In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6b-7).
Patience: “Wait for the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you….” (Psalm 37:34a).
Kindness: “Give, and it will be given to you….” (Luke 6:38a).
Goodness: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Faithfulness: “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24b).
Gentleness: “Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Self-control: “Keep my commands in your heart, for they will… bring you prosperity” (Proverbs 3:1b-2).