This week I've been devouring fruit salad. (And sadly when I do, I can no longer help but hearing that stupid "Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy!" song from the Wiggles. One of the beauties of parenthood.) I only eat this in the summer. But for years now my wife has been making it just the way I like it - strawberries, blackberries, and pineapple. Oh yeah! I don't want raspberries in there. Or bananas or apples. Or even grapes. I want those 3 fruits. I believe them to be the sweet nectar of God's delicious creation. And in my opinion, anything else added to the mix is not only unnecessary, but it takes away from it's greatness. So I guess what I'm saying is, I want my fruit salad, but I want it MY way!
This weekend I came to the conclusion that I approach my spiritual life this way as well sometimes. The difference is, you can't just go pulling the fruit you don't like out of the bowl. God has a plan here.
Like many other stories, verses, and principles in scripture, I think the Fruit of the Spirit passage in Galatians 5 has been diluted. For many of us, we start reading these verses and immediately bust into that stupid song someone made up so we could teach little kids to remember the fruits of the Spirit. (If you've somehow managed to go unscathed - you don't have this tune tormenting you - just be grateful and leave it alone.) When you read Paul's exhortation here what you realize he's saying is this: There is solid, visible evidence that we are living Spirit-filled lives. If you want to walk as Christ did - live your life being guided and controlled by His love and power - then your life will be characterized by LOVING other people, finding JOY when happiness isn't present, knowing the PEACE of God that is beyond human comprehension, somehow discovering PATIENCE when you know you don't have any on your own. KINDNESS begins to fill your heart toward others, you desire GOODNESS to saturate every corner of your life and your heart, in discovering God's faithfulness you long to be FAITHFUL to Him and to others. And then there's GENTLENESS - that one that I really didn't want in my salad at all. Until I began to realize that it's absence was spoiling the rest of the fruit. Seriously! One fruit left out of the mix...and it all seemed rotten! And last, but certainly not least, SELF-CONTROL - learning that as the Holy Spirit consumes and controls your life, you must gain control over your reactions, responses, and decisions. This is the evidence. And you can't just pick the fruits you like. They're forever divinely linked. Mixed together. Stop picking out the kiwi!
I had to confess to the Lord that I've been guilty at times of unknowingly telling Him what I did and did NOT want in my bowl. I'm learning that He says to us, "You may not like this one particular type of fruit. It may seem bitter to you at first - or maybe it's too sour or sweet. But I put it in the bowl for reasons you may never know. Eat it. Feast on it!" As David says in Psalm 34, "Taste and see that the Lord is good!"
Is there anything you've left out of your fruit salad?
You might want to throw it into the bowl.