Since I'm providing a series on Soul Food (and failing miserably) I thought it would be appropriate to incorporate actual food references that actually have merit for the soul. Time to roll up my sleeves and focus on something that has been weighing on my heart significantly for the past several months: Fruit of the Spirit.
I've shared before, but once upon a time I believed "Fruit of the Spirit" or "bearing fruit" meant you converted people to Christianity. While that's all good and a worthwhile pursuit, it showed my naivety in the Word. Bearing fruit is a personal reflection of the Spirit at work in your own life.
Today we'll start picking fruit, one piece at a time, exploring what it means to bear fruit in your own life. I hope your soul is fed.
Love: It doesn't matter if it's agape, phileo, or other Greek words I'm not at all familiar with. We're told explicitly what love is. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is something read at almost every wedding ceremony you've ever been to. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." Again in John 15:12-13 Jesus proclaims, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down to lay down one's life for one's friends."
Are you bearing the fruit of love in your life? The first three words of the Corinthians verse have me saying, "Nope." If there is one thing I'm not, it's patient. I rush Little Miss when she takes for.ev.er. to tell me a story. I get angry when Brent is ten minutes later than I thought he should have been coming home from work. Someone takes way too long (a couple seconds) to recognize the light has turned green. I honk. I order groceries online because I get tired of getting stuck behind people in the aisle who are taking their precious time deciding which oatmeal is best, as they weigh their options from the middle of the aisle. I get antsy when a webpage doesn't load instantly and I have to wait for content to appear. I'm an impatient mess. I easily anger. I can tell you what Brent did ten years ago to tick me off. Usually I'm easily angered because what I want to happen didn't happen the way I wanted it to. (self-seeking) Lord have mercy, I'm only on the first fruit, and already falling entirely too short.
Or am I?
Before fruit is ripe for the picking, there is a blossoming stage. There are flowers budding in my life right now that will soon bear fruit of love. When I forgive. When I breathe deep and allow patience to override my need for instant gratification. When I do what I can when I can to protect those in my presence. When I offer hope. When I persevere. Lord, I have persevered. When I sacrifice bits and pieces, or giant portions, of my life to make the lives of others better. To serve.
Are you budding? Are you producing fruit?
Unconditional love is a concept I've struggled with. How can I love others when others are so....unlovable? Yet I am unlovable. In so many ways. Brent still loves me. My kids still love me. My God still loves me. I can do this. You can do this. We can love. Let's bear the fruit of love, and lay down our selfishness, our grudges, our anger - and replace it with hearts open to giving love to those who need it. "Who needs love, Val?" Everyone. Everyone you meet, talk to, see, think about - everyone.
Love is not hugs, kisses, or romantic walks on the beach. Love is work. Love is a choice. Love is fruit.
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