Sunday, December 24, 2006

Fruit

I told Logan a couple of weeks ago that if you look at an orchard of apple trees and all of them are bowed down heavily with apples, you'll then expect every apple tree to produce apples in the same way. If there were one tree in that orchard that looked like the others, but was barren, you would probably ask, "What's wrong with that tree? Isn't it an apple tree? Why aren't there any apples on it? Is it sick? Does it know it's an apple tree?" (OK, I didn't use the word "barren." I probably said "empty," or "without fruit.")

He has been reading a silly library story about a little rabbit going wtih his class to an apple orchard and helping all of his classmates pick apples...so the timing of teaching him about fruitfulness seems to have been appropriate.

That is how it is to be in our lives--when we say, "I am a Christian," that's like saying, "I am a Christ Tree." Yes, meaning that I produce Christ--in that, when people look at me they should see fruit that looks like Jesus. No, we're not talking about visions of Jesus in apples. Now, be patient with me here; I'm sleep deprived. No, I'm talking about the Fruits of the Spirit!

When I ask Jesus to guide my living and to help me walk the path He has laid out for me, then I have the Holy Spirit within me, helping me to accomplish all that I need to as a Believer. Sometimes we are really good at listening and being guided. Sometimes we are rebellious and independent...

How do others know if my faith is Authentic? Because as a Christ Tree I should be producing Christ's fruit. And there's no need to guess at what this is--because it's all written down for me. Lately I've been convicted of the barrenness of my branches. My arms are too light and I have a long way to go before people can come close to memorializing my life like they eulogized my grandfather. He was a very good example of a fruit-bearing tree!

Here are the lyrics to a song on the topic, Author Unknown:

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol.
We can live our lives to be holy
But on our own we surely fail
God has asked that we would love him wholly
As we seek the Lord, the fruit will grow
Love His word, it will make us whole!

And the original scripture is:
Galatians 5:16-26
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

When I am angry at my son or my husband I am not displaying love. When I am bogged down with stresses and am snapping at everyone around me I am not choosing joy. There is a definite need for some peace talks around here, and I am notoriously impatient. Kindness...I think I might need a little extra dose, but it's not my weakest point. There's a little bud of kindness growing on me, I suppose. Except when I get mad at my preschooler for just being a preschooler. Goodness, I can never really claim. Faithfulness. Well, I've been walking a faith-leaping life lately, but faithfulness isn't seen in my dedication to reading God's words, or in my first reaction to take my problems into silent prayer talks instead of verbal assaults on my loved ones... Gentleness--Although I am physically gentle most of the time, my tongue is guily of some roughing up and harshness. Finally, self-control...

Well, really, I am barely a Christ-producing tree at all! I need to learn how to take deep breaths and exhale slowly instead of reacting to things around me so quickly. I need to pull myself together (as we tell our son), or as Logan told me the other day, in one profound moment for a 3 1/2 year old,

"Let go of your anger, Mommy."

Amen.

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