But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22)
If you were raised in a Christian home like me, you’ve probably heard of the fruits of the Spirit. These are qualities and characteristics that should be displayed by those of us who call ourselves Christians. All of these we should exhibit because the Father first exhibits them toward us. When we mess up, He is patient. In times of hardship, He gives us peace. In everything, He is gentle and loving. If we are to be more like Christ, then we should show these characteristics to others.
Often times, these fruits of the Spirit are seen in the woods as well. Although deer and duck hunters were not the direct target of Paul’s letter to the church in Galilee, these words are just as important and applicable now as they have ever been before. Here is the way I notice the fruits of the Spirit in the woods, and maybe after reading this, you’ll begin to see them too.
Love: Although it may not seem like it, true outdoorsmen love the animals we hunt. Yes, our goal is in fact to kill them, but that is far from the most important thing. We hunt for food, population control, ethical wildlife management, and to commune with our Creator in a way that He designed.
Joy: One of the top 3 happiest moments of my life was taking my largest buck with my grandfather. Not only were we joyful over the kill, but also the time we got to spend together and all the hard work finally paying off to reach this milestone.
Peace: As I’ve written about before, nothing in the world is more peaceful than watching the sun rise over the water or through the trees on a cold clear morning. These times are when I feel closest to the Father because I am experiencing his untouched Creation exactly how He intended for me to.
Patience: You will never be a successful hunter if you are not patient, bottom line, period, end of story. Although it’s hard to sit through wind, snow, sleet, rain, freezing temperatures, and everything else we deal with, especially without seeing anything, the times that we are successful make everything worth it.
Gentleness: Although we shoot animals, we should be trying to do it in the most ethical way possible. We never want animals to suffer and should be doing the best we can to make clean shots.
Goodness: Genesis tells us that after everything was finished, our Creator looked down and saw that “it was good.” Fun fact, it’s still good today too. Creation has taught me more about how big our God really is than any Bible Study ever did. Now, don’t get me wrong, Bible Studies are fantastic ways to pursue Jesus and incur spiritual growth and you absolutely should be a part of one. However, I’m a very visual and experience based learner and when I’m in the woods is when I feel closest to the Father.
Self-control: In order to build up healthy deer populations, we have to let border line shooter bucks walk all too often for my patience level. Deer that are 3.5 years old but look like wall hangers are incredibly hard to say no too. However, for the future of your land and deer population, it sometimes has to be done.
The Fruits of the Spirit that Paul writes about in Galatians are applicable in all areas of life. Whether it be in the classroom, at work, or in the woods, these values and characteristics of how we should be hold true. Regardless of where you are or the situation, practice these and show someone else the love of Christ today.