Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The hallmarks of Christianity, and the characteristics that should set us apart. They are seeds within us that grow over time, transforming us further into the image of Christ, the ultimate goal of Spiritual Growth.
The list of the Fruit of the Spirit is found in Galatians 5:22-23. The word in the New Testament’s original language is, karpos; fruit, as in the fruit of a tree. These fruits are produced internally and are visible to others. These fruits are given to you, so that you can grow in the characteristics of Christ. So that you are able to do the things you should do as a Christian. So that through you, others can see what Christ is like. And these fruits are among the few things that you can pray for, with full assurance, that you WILL receive them.
I have to tell a story on myself, how the Fruit of the Spirit showed up in an ugly encounter. I was in Denver, getting ready to conduct a retreat. I had to pick someone up at the airport. When I arrived, I was lucky to find a spot in the short-term parking spot right in front. I dashed in, having to turn quickly, squeezing into the spot, facing the other way. My sudden and unexpected movement surprised the parking lot attendant. As I got out of the car he began yelling at, me. That I was driving dangerously … I told him I was sorry that I surprised him, and insisted I was not driving dangerously. He proceeded to scold me with colorful, and unnecessary language, accusing me of almost running him over.
I reached for his badge to get his name, I told him I was going to report him for speaking inappropriately to me. He mistook my reach as an attempt to touch him, which sent him further into a rage. I became angrier and left in a huff, showing my displeasure at his behavior.
This encounter really upset me. I tried to compose myself, as I waited for my friend’s flight. Then I heard that still, small voice. “Well, that’s a nice – Christian lady – preparing to lead a retreat. You can’t even own your part of that conflict. Go back and apologize to the man.” Yes, God often talks to me this way, it’s irritating sometimes. So, I headed back to the parking lot. He saw me coming and begin rantings began before I could speak. I interrupted him and said kindly, “I’m sorry I surprised you. I did not intend to cause you any harm. Will you forgive me?”
He was astonished, and meekly accepted my apology while offering me one in exchange.
Can you see the Fruit at work here? Kindness, Gentleness, and SELF-CONTROL. A thankless job, being a parking lot attendant at a large airport. It had probably been years since anyone extended him any kindness. I’m sure he went home and told his wife all about the crazy lady that almost ran him over, then apologized.
A long time ago, someone told me you could tell a Christian by the fruit they bear. She said “Christians bear other Christians.”
She was wrong. You can tell a Christian by the fruit they bear, but the fruit they bear is love, joy, peace …
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Up tomorrow: in Spiritual Growth; G is for GERMINATING