Monday, September 10, 2012
The leaves are falling from the poplars and maples faster than a blizzard of snowflakes. The green beans and zucchini are still producing in abundance. Bright orange pumpkins glow throughout a neighbor’s field. The harvest is ready! So is God’s harvest. Am I, are you, ready to use God’s fruit of the Spirit to draw others into His kingdom—today?
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
This year I put up a fancy climbing device for my pole beans. The metal pole supports two circular rings, one near the ground and the other six feet high, joined by intertwining strings that guide the pole bean vines. In past years, the deer hadn’t touched my outside-the-fence plants, so I rationalized that it would be safe to erect the climbing device outside the fence, too. The fenced gardens had no room for pole beans.
At first, my pole beans grew beautifully on their new home, holding a ton of leaves, blossoms, and beans. What a harvest! Then, one morning during my routine walk through the gardens, I witnessed a strange denuding. Hundreds of leafless, beanless stems stood straight up along the strings, like vertical pick-up-sticks. At least the top crop remained, apparently too high for the deer to reach. The whole affair looked like a 1970s ethnic hairdo.
I groaned and then laughed at the sight. What a picture of my life as a fruit-bearing Christian! “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22)
We’re all vulnerable to the vagaries of life that steal our spiritual fruit. God plants and waters us within the protective nursery of His Word and Spirit. However, we sometimes stray outside His nursery.
Our fruit of love, for instance, is snatched easily by anger and hatred following someone’s evil act. We allow our fruit of joy to be stolen and exchanged for sadness. God’s peace, His special fruit, is gobbled in a moment until only the visible stems of anxiety stand. An unkind word easily steals our fruit of kindness or goodness. Someone’s broken promise snatches our own sense of faithfulness. The harsh words of a friend or co-worker quickly turn our own gentle words into an unpleasant comeback or even retaliation.
Patience, a virtuous fruit, takes time to grow. Its fragility must be fenced in daily to avoid being eaten by unexpected, unwanted circumstances. Finally, there’s the fruit of self-control. We conveniently forget to ask God to fill us with it for the day, making it easy for marauding deer—misused time, unfulfilling pleasures, and poor attitudes—to snatch our self-control in one gulp.
Jesus has the answer to these fruit snatchers. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Lord, help us abide so closely to You that the fruit of Your Spirit dwelling within us cannot be snatched by surrounding marauders. In Jesus’ name, amen.