Paul tells us in Galatians that you can see the evidence of the fruit of the spirit by Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. However, the fruits can be counterfeited. We have seen examples of evil people exhibiting fruits of the spirit. Ted Bundy showed a lot of kindness to many people, but he was a ruthless serial killer, an example of evil.
The fruit of the tree starts in the root. The root filters what it needs for growth. Real fruit is fundamentally a result of a life rooted and established in Christ. Any other fruit is manufactured.
When I think of manufacturing fruits, I am reminded of a story from when my daughter who was still quite young. She always liked to draw and color, and if there was a picture from her coloring book that she was proud of she would tape it to the wall in her bedroom. She also really loved cats and she was really good at hiding things from us. My wife and I would joke that she was going to get herself a cat, sneak it upstairs to her room and we wouldn’t find out about until it died or escaped.
One day, when we knew we were planning to move from that house, we went up to her room to talk to her about taking her pictures off the wall. As we talked, she started to get this scared look on her face. Her lip started to quiver and she started to cry.
All of a sudden she blurts out something about, “the cat.” We looked at each other and we both thought, “Oh no! She did bring a cat up in here.”
We asked, “What cat? What are you talking about?” Feeling like this chat about moving has taken a serious turn. She points to the wall and there is one picture she’s hung up that isn’t in line with all the other pictures. It just seemed out of place. It was a big picture of a cat.
She removed the picture of the cat that was right above her light switch, and we discovered that on the wall, she had written her name in permanent marker. She had tried but failed to get it off.
Every time she turned her light on and off, for the years that the cat picture had been hanging there, and it had been a long time, she was constantly reminder of her wrong doing, her ‘secret sin.’
We can pretend the fruits of the spirit. We can put on a good face for that, like hanging up a beautifully colored picture, but if we have our own wrong doing hidden deep inside all we are doing is living with our regret and shame.
We laughed and told her not to worry forgiving her. This is exactly what God wants to do with us. He doesn’t want us acting like Christians under our own power. He wants us living as Christians, empowered by the Spirit.
Peter Demos, President of Demos Brands, www.afraidtotrust.com , 615-848-1777