Friday, February 17, 2017

The Fruit of the Spirit is . . .

drawn by a friend a looong time ago on an Emmaus Walk

. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control . . .Galatians 5:22-23

Over the last few weeks, we've been studying the fruit of the spirit in our Sunday School class. We've talked about love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness.  This week, we will be talking about being good in the image of Jesus.

I've taught on the fruit of the spirit before.  I may have even blogged on it before. (found it here - way back in November of 2009) It never amazes me how much I continue to need to grow and how much I need to allow God to work in my life . . .and to do some weeding around my fruit plants (I know that sounds lame but it is sort of true!!).

When we talked about love, we used 1 Corinthians 13 as one of our scripture passages and we inserted our own names . . .instead of Love is patient, love is kind . . .Lisa is patient, Lisa is kind. I had a buzzer going off almost constantly when I inserted my name!

I was a tad more comfortable when we talked about joy.  I love knowing that my joy comes from the Lord - no matter what.  There are times when I might not be happy but if I dig deep . . .there is joy in the Lord.  It isn't always easy to find it, but it is there.

How about that peace that passes all understanding?  How can we have peace when the world around us is going to hell in a hand basket?  Peace is sometimes elusive but it, too, is always available.  It is often a peace that CANNOT be explained -- a peace that is there when we are in the darkest places.  Peace is like that tiny pin prick of light at the end of the tunnel . . .we know it is there for us.

Dadgum it - we did have to talk about patience.  My favorite thing from that day was "I think I'm getting more patient as I get older . . .but maybe I just don't give a shit."  Yes, I did say that word in a Sunday School lesson.  Yes, our whole class laughed.  Yes, we tend to be a little . . .well, what are we?  Edgy?  Irreverent?  Old?  Patience doesn't come over night . . .we can't pray, "God, I need patience and I need it right now."  Well, we CAN pray that prayer but odds are we are not going to get patience immediately - yes, I know God is a God of miracles, but give me a break!

Last week, we talked about kindness and I asked for examples of kindness on Facebook.  People shared wonderful stories with me (and I shared with the class) of how people had showered them with kindness - from paying someone's way through PTA school to sitting with them while in the hospital to cooking meals for them.  The stories were amazing and those stories filled me with  joy (they aren't individual fruit(s) . . no (s) . . .they are fruit of the spirit . . .and they do go hand in hand.)  We were talking about the scripture -- you know the scripture in Matthew (and probably at least one other gospel - I need to check that out!) about giving the "cup of cold water" to someone?  While I was allowing the class to pull up memories of their own, I shared how I keep an emergency stash of either Campbell's soup or Chef Boyardee Ravioli in my desk. We had someone who was hungry recently come into the church office and we heated my last can of soup for the person.  That was a "simple" example of kindness.  This week, that kindness came back doublefold (is that how you use that word??) -- I am now the proud owner of not one can but two cans of Chef Boyardee Ravioli.  That illustrated the point perfectly that we never do a kindness in order to get repaid but that most often when we do a kindness, it come back to us!!  Times TWO in this case! (thanks so much to Martha and Jim)

This week's lesson is all about being good - good like Jesus.  I used to tell my kids to "behave" as they were going out the door and finally one of them (they were little) said, "what does behave mean" . . .it means be good!  Be good like Jesus!  I think that we may skip a couple . . .maybe faithfulness and gentleness . . .and jump to self-control.  I'm not sure I can do a combined lesson on faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  We may begin a Lenten study on the Sunday after Ash Wednesday . . .but for now . . .the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control . . .Galatians 5:22-23

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