Summary: While there are basic competancies that promote an emotionally healthy spirituality, there are also competancies that help us move outside of ourselves. Without getting outside of ourselves we will stunt our growth emotionally and spiritually.
Back to School
Being Juicy Fruit
November 15, 2009
We have spent a lot of time talking about and emphasizing a lot of personal competencies for emotional health. They provide the foundation for the rest of life. They provide the foundation for dealing with the next level of competencies: how we relate to others.
The Shema of Jesus has been our guide for several years now: Love God with all our being and love your neighbor as yourself. Basically, much of what we have emphasized through the sermons have been focused on how to love ourselves emotionally and spiritually. But the goal of loving ourselves is so that we can learn to better love others. If we do not turn our focus outward, we will never growth beyond ourselves but stay stuck in a narcissistic view of life where everything is about me. This is a sure sign of emotional immaturity that has stunted our spiritual growth: when everything is about me (often expressed corporately as in churches by being about “us”).
Turn to Galatians 5:22. As you find your place, I remembered a video that we showed a while back that made a humorous poke at how “Christians” sometimes stay emotionally and spirituality immature.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Our neighbor had a pear tree. The interesting thing about fruit trees is that they make beautiful flowers in the spring but it takes the entire summer for those dead flowers to turn into fruit. It takes time and patience. It takes plenty of rain and water but not too much.
Then when the pears are formed, it takes time for them to ripen. When they get ripe, they soften somewhat but not too much. When they get over-ripe, they start to ripen from the inside out. Outside they look fine. The skin looks nice but when you reached up to pick it, you find out that inside it beginning to turn to mush. When the inside completely rots, the skin turns brown eventually shriveling up. Often though unless an outside force shakes it, it will remain attached to the tree.
Sometimes we are like those pears. We are cleansed by the blood. We are forgiven. We are given a new way of living. We even start to bear fruit. But we don’t deal with certain issues. We allow the past to haunt us. We stuff our feelings. We don’t express our feelings appropriately. We poison ourselves and the others around us.
But God calls us to bear fruit that lasts. We are called to be juicy fruit not dried up fruit. We are not called to be rotten fruit that looks good on the outside but is basically full of rotten, sour, bitter mush on the inside. We shouldn’t be provoking others. Pushing their buttons. That is simply conceit. It is self-centered not Christ-centered living. People who go around pushing other people’s buttons are simply jealous (just as the Scripture says) of other people’s happiness, peace, or love and want them to feel just as miserable as they really feel inside. By seemingly controlling the way others feel, they feel as if they might be at least be good for something.
Remember the saying: Hurting People Hurt People.
Only then can we truly live out the way of Jesus to love others as we love ourselves. Only then can we be filled with the Spirit of God to bear the fruit of the Spirit.
I want to note one quick thing in regards to the text: fruit is singular. It is not plural. There are not several different types of fruit where some people have some of the qualities but I’m excused from having others. All these qualities make up one piece of fruit. They are all qualities that come together to make up a whole. God’s Spirit will produce all of these qualities in every person that is filled with God’s Spirit. In other words, one cannot claim to be kind but then say that they do not have any self-control because that is not their “fruit.” It is true that some of these qualities this one fruit may need more work in cultivating but we should ignore some of them and make lame excuses for not having them.
With that said, let’s look at what it means to cultivate this fruit of the Spirit. What does it look like? What actions might one notice? What emotional competencies accompany a person who exhibits a fruitful life?