Many of us have heard the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 recited, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. However, I believe we have not really taken the time to digest what this means for our lives. That is why I am excited to share with you this new book, A Vine-Ripened Life by Stanley D. Gale. He backs up and begins in John 15 to remind us of the Vine from which the fruit is produced. Cultivating spiritual fruit is not about self-will but about dependence on this Vine (Gale 3). He, then, takes us through each part in the fruit of the Spirit, challenging us to live it out in a gospel-grounded, Spirit-empowered, heart reflection way.
One of the biggest takeaways for me from this book is how Stanley Gale again and again points us back to the gospel. While the culture can take love, joy, kindness, and the like and turn it in to what they want with their own definition, we, as Christ-followers, must seek out what God has to say about it and meditate on His Word. The way we grow in our walk with God is by the nourishment of His Word and prayer (Gale 2, 168). When we do study God’s Word, we see that love is grounded in the fact that Jesus was sent to serve and save His people (Gale 33). Joy doesn’t come from our circumstances but the God of them. It means loving God and treasuring Him even more than his gifts (Gale 49). While much more could be said on this area, it will suffice to say throughout the rest of the fruit the gospel is the foundation.
The second element of this book is the emphasis on Spirit-empowerment. What I mean by that is we cannot attempt to cultivate this fruit on our own. After all, the fruit of the Spirit is “of the Spirit”. Stanley Gale begins and ends the book this very point (Gale 3, 164). Spiritual growth does not happen through “self-help” but through “Christ-dependence”. This means the fruit of the Spirit are grace grown (see chapter 13). It is only when we depend on Christ and are empowered by the Holy Spirit that we can witness the fruit of the Spirit being developed. In other words, fruit is only “formed by reliance on the Holy Spirit” (Gale 8).
One final appreciation I found in A Vine-Ripened Life was the idea of heart reflection and really thinking on what you are reading. The chapter on humility (chapter 12) was a timely chapter, causing for reflection and evaluation. Also, I found the “Cultivating Growth” questions at the end of each chapter to be clarifying, convicting, and challenging, calling for heart change to grow in the fruit of the Spirit.
In summary, if you are looking for a gospel-grounded, Spirit-empowered, and heart reflection book on the fruit of the Spirit, I gladly recommend to you A Vine-Ripened Life by Stanley D. Gale.
I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.