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Fruit! When I was in high school you never wanted your name and that word to be used in the same sentence. A fruit was crazy, odd, wacky, weird or (gasp) different from everyone else … or that’s how that person appeared. Last night at our closing Vacation Bible School program we learned about being fruit from our kids; in fact we were encouraged to let our lives be fruit.  Galatians 5:22 “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”.  Hmmm….what do you think?  I’m thinking, being a fruit is kind of a good thing.
There might be a reason why God inspired Paul to put love first in that verse. Think of someone right now that you avoid because you cannot love them. You know God will bless you for loving them.  Matthew 5:44 spells it out “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your Father in Heaven.” That person might be snarly, irritating, and unpleasant but you can love them – but you have to pray love into your heart. It won’t get there without a change of spirit – the fruit of the spirit is Love …
What will it take to have joy? The way to joy is this simple acronym: J-esus O-thers Y-ou  I still remember Mrs. McNeil teaching that song with the words written in big letters on an illustrated song book.  Jesus, Others, You what a wonderful way to spell joy.  It’s so easy to think of all the what-ifs and if-only and focus on ourselves first, then if we have enough energy we tend to others and finally we take the remnants of what we have left and think of Jesus. We’ve got that backward. God’s son deserves first place so that we can be powered by joy.
Kindness and goodness and gentleness. Is there someone who could use a tender word, a loving gesture, a hand written card, a phone call. When you feel like screaming at that child, could you step back and see, in that moment, the effects of being calm and gentle as opposed to a stream of unkind and hurtful words.  Remember you can’t get that back – the word that’s spoken.  Whether in anger or in love … what’s it going to be? The word that’s spoken can’t be taken back.
Faithfulness – we hear a lot about being true to ourselves. What about being true to others and being true to God.  There’s a man, Hezekiah in the Old Testament who we don’t hear much about but in 2 Chronicles 31:20 we learn that “he was doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God.”  In Psalm 31:23 we see the benefit of being faithful. “Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full.”
Self-control and come on already! Could I have a little patience over here? That driver poking along at 40 mph in a 55 mph zone? The one who also, by the way, thinks the turn signal is optional. How about the person in front of you in the checkout lane who’s talking on their cell phone, arguing with a toddler about why they can’t have one more piece of candy, and purchased three items without price tags … and you just want to pay for your one deli lunch and get out of there. Road rage … checkout line angst … patience. My dad used to say don’t pray for patience because you’ll surely get tribulation. Give me patience Lord, but hurry!
The next time someone calls me a fruit, I hope it’s because I have been living like one … one of the fruits of the spirit.
From the Message translation “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” Galatians 5:22-23
Maybe we need a miracle to live out the fruits of the spirit.