Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Gift of Fruit

One of the benefits of the homeschool curriculum we use is that I am able to take part for free in an incredible online homeschool community. It's great for encouragement, for learning from those who have gone before, and for making friends who are like-minded as well as those who challenge you to consider new things. One of those friends I have made, a homeschool/public school mom of seven who is both like-minded in some ways AND challenges me to consider new things, is Amy who blogs at BirthBlessed.

Amy has written an article for our encouragement as disciples of Christ:

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these there is no law. ~Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

Somewhere along the way, I was taught (or confused something) that the Fruit of the Spirit is a gift. Don't misunderstand me- I do believe that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a gift. Grace is a gift. But somehow I had come to a false doctrine that the Fruit of the Spirit was something the Spirit gives us. As in, "I am sorry I don't have self-control. I have prayed for the Spirit to produce self-control in me, but he hasn't given it to me yet."

And the Fruit of the Spirit is something I've struggled with for my entire life. I have the verses memorized. I have arts and crafts in my house displaying the words. And I just kept praying for the Spirit to give them to me. I cried and wondered why He didn't. I beat myself up, condemning myself for my foolish behavior, and again cried out to the Lord, for His Spirit in me to make these Fruits visible, to make them appear. I'd have taken fruit flies with them, if I could just have them.

And one day, the scales were removed from my eyes. My confusion was laid to rest. My understanding was new.

Fruit is cultivated.

How did I not know this? How did I ever sit there with my hand out, waiting for it to be dropped into my lap?

Gardening is hard- harder for some than others, sure. Some soil is better than others. Some circumstances are harder than others. Some knowledge is better than others. Some risks and threats are harsher than others. But no fruit comes apart from hard work. It's just that some may work harder than others.

Self-control is something to be worked for. And when you fail, it must mean you need more practice. Love is something you work at. Joy is something you choose. Peace is achieved. Patience is acquired by trial. Goodness is a menial task, kindness also. Faithfulness comes from purpose. Gentleness must be nurtured. And self-control, the mother of all Fruits, comes from putting away pride. Dying to this world, taking up your cross, and following Him.

Oh Sweet Jesus, Precious Jesus. I praise you for the grace you bestow upon me, to give me understanding. I have a new task, now that I know this: to work to follow you, to love because you loved. To enjoy all things, to have peace knowing You are Lord. To patiently withstand affliction, to train myself to be good and kind and nurture gentleness in myself and my children. To open my Scripture and listen to Your voice in order for my faith to grow. And to lose any shred of pride that inhibits my self-control.

What a gift He has given me!

Thanks for the encouraging and instructive word, Amy!

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