/ Mark Loughridge

The Weeds of Sin and the Fruit of the Spirit

I was thinking about the fruit of the Spirit recently and engaged in a bit of reverse engineering, or reverse gardening—to coin a concept. In other words I took the fruit of the Spirit and sought to ask what are the corresponding weeds.

And bearing in mind what my brother in Christ, Andrew Kerr, said last week in his post on sin—in point 12:

“The faithful Gospel minister will be prayerful and careful to deal with ‘respectable sins’ instead of always hitting ‘home runs’”
I thought it would be beneficial to not just nail the weeds of the world, but the respectable Christian versions of those weeds too.

I’m reasonably ok at spotting weeds in the garden when it comes to the usual suspects, but there are a few that look pretty, and have been left to establish a foothold where they should have been rooted out. Likewise with Christian weeds—these respectable sins.

There's another category: Have you ever been conned by plastic fruit sitting in a bowl? It looks the part, but isn’t the real thing. Christians can have artificial fruit too—it looks the part, but isn't the work of the Spirit, and brings no joy. What does this artificial fruit look like?

So here’s my gardeners' identification chart for the weeds of sin and the fruit of the Spirit:

Fruit Weeds Christian Weeds Artificial Fruit The Fruit of the Spirit
Love Hatred, bitterness, resentment Indifference to fellow Christians, Indifference to the suffering & marginalised Apathy, Disgust at sinners Love with limits, Love without cost, Loving the lovely Love that mirrors God’s love to us
Joy Despair, Anger at God, Miserableness Pessimism, Boredom, Discontentment Joy that lasts only as long as the church service

Joy in good circumstances

Joy that flows from salvation’s truths and treasures, irrespective of circumstances.
Peace Internal and external strife, Arguing, Fighting Worry, Anxiety, Fear, Discontentment Confidence in your abilities to cope with whatever comes Peace because our relationship with God breeds trust in our Father’s care.
Patience Impatience, Irritability Impatient with God’s timetable … with people who should know better … with yourself‘Justified’ impatience Proud endurance.

Patient when it benefits us, with people we want to impress

Patience because of his patience to us. He remembers we are dust (Psalm 103).
Kindness Tramples over others, Pride, Expect to be served by others Self-pity Kindness only in order to impress or receive. Kindness that looks to give to others, because our Father displays kindness to us unendingly.
Goodness Wickedness, imorality, Disobedience to God’s commands Hypocrisy – pretending we are better than we are.

Absence of positive goodness, ie. seeing it simply as not doing wrong.

Displaying positive goodness only when it suits Goodness because we have received great goodness at no cost
Faithfulness Infidelity, unfaithfulness, dishonesty, disobedience Half-heartedness, half-truthfulness, exaggeration, self advertising, Undependable Committed when it suits


Faithfulness because Jesus was faithful even when it hurt/cost
Meekness Self-seeking, Pride Failure to stand for what is right False modesty

Being a doormat

Meekness because we owe everything to Jesus humbling himself
Self-control Lack of self-control, bad temper, greed, addiction Frustration with inanimate objects! eg. Computer, car, anything that goes wrong

Infatuation with good things - food, tv,

Addiction to legal substances

Partial self control

Offsetting self control in some areas against none in others

Self-control because God is the only thing ultimately worth having
It’s only a start; doubtless you can add many more. Do so. And let us take care of the soil of our souls, weeding and cultivating, so that the Spirit’s fruit can flourish.
Mark Loughridge

Mark Loughridge

Mark pastors 2 churches in the Republic of Ireland. He is married with three daughters. Before entering the ministry he studied architecture. He enjoys open water swimming, design, and watching rugby.

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