Monday, August 01, 2011

some thoughts on fruit

I love fruit. It is pretty much my favourite food group. Not only does it look great (much more colourful than steak or sausage), it is juicy and sweet and good for you! This spring, I decided to try growing a few plants on my balcony. Not only did I do the usual pot full of annual flowers, I dedicated a few pots of soil to tomatoes and also planted some watermelon seeds.

As I have been somewhat occupied this spring and summer with trying to keep my plants healthy and growing, I have learned a few things about fruit. When I was asked to give a talk at a church meeting last night, I took some of the lessons I am learning about growing fruit and applied them to growing good spiritual fruit in our lives. Here, then, are some thoughts on fruit.

1. Fruit is a plant that contains its seeds. This means that fruit has the ability to reproduce itself. It carries an exponential factor. Not only is it tasty and attractive, but it is meant to produce more and more every year, just like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are meant to always be increasing in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
2. Fruit is sweet and edible in its raw state. We do not have to add anything manufactured to fruit (unlike chocolate which is made by adding sugar, milk solids, lecithin, and often some type of fat to the cocoa solids pressed from the cocoa bean). Fruit is very attractive. When people see someone enjoying a juicy strawberry, they want one, too! This is what good spiritual fruit is supposed to do as well. Being loved invites us to love others. Seeing someone who is joyful is supposed to attract us to participate in joy.
3. Fruit is the maturation of flowers. Unlike my pretty pot of purple and yellow flowers which are a feast for the eyes, fruit goes past the flowering stage and produces something more. Apple blossoms on a tree mean that apples are soon coming. Spiritual maturation also implies a process that involves a significant amount of time. Fruit does not spring forth full-grown overnight. It needs time to form properly and ripen. As I have watched my plants over the summer, I notice growth every day. Peace and patience also grow by daily increments.
4. Fruit needs a simple environment to grow. All it takes is earth, sun, and water in the proper proportions. And really, growing spiritual fruit is much the same. We all have the perfect environment for growth: where we live, what we do, our relationships, our community, our family, the challenges of life, etc. The stuff of life is fertile soil for kindness and all aspects of spiritual growth.
5. Fruit is not primarily for itself (me). Fruit is meant to be enjoyed by others. In the same way, spiritual fruit that grows in me is for the well-being of those around me. Goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness are not merely desirable qualities that I get to pat myself on the back for; they are for the ultimate benefit of my community and my world.
6. Fruit grows from what I feed it. The nutrients in the soil work their way through the plants and vines to the very ends of the leaves where the flowers bloom and the fruit eventually forms. Whatever is flowing through the plant is what feeds the fruit. If I water my plants with vinegar water, the fruit will taste like vinegar. When we speak about the fruit of our lives, the same principle applies. What is going through my mind, my mouth, my thoughts, my life, my relationships, my work, and my every-day activities is what will end up flavouring the fruit in my life. Self-control is something that channels the right stuff into my soul to make sure that good, healthy, and tasty spiritual fruit is being formed.

But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. (Galatians 5:22-23, The Message)

This is a photo of a flower on my watermelon plant. And if you look closely, you can see a tiny watermelon starting to grow on the left side.

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