Jen’s Gem: God provides all the help we need.
I suspect many of us have received or even given a fruitcake as a gift during the holidays. This “mish-mash” of fruits and nuts appears to be nothing more than a dump of whatever’s in your pantry disguised as a dessert. It does not appeal to me at all. Apologies in advance if this is your fav.
Growing up in Long Island, I can remember our family ordering what was called “garbage pizza.” It had every ingredient under the sun (sans anchovies of course!) and it was deee-lish! In many deli’s everything bagels are available that are topped with a variety of seasonings. The concept of less is more clearly does not apply to any of these food items, but rather ‘more is more!’
When I completed my Bible college studies, a very good friend of mine gave me a set of books called “Nine Fruits of the Spirit.” If you are unfamiliar with these, they are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These small books are mini Bible studies on each of the gifts and I’ve been working my way through them over the past few weeks.
I began with “self-control,” which seemed a fitting choice since I was just beginning my weight-loss journey. Since then, I’ve completed the studies on patience, faithfulness and am currently working on peace.
Perhaps you often find yourself praying for these various gifts. Does “Lord, give me patience!” sound familiar? This plea escaped my lips many times as a single mom, raising two young children. Or perhaps, during times of weakness as you devoured a piece of chocolate cake or a yummy salty snack, you’ve shouted, “Lord, give me self-control!”
The thing is – we’re praying for things we already have! Now you may not believe me, but hear me out. Each of us, as believers in Jesus, has been given a seed of these gifts. Do they need nurturing and fertilizing? Sure! Just as a cucumber or flower seed needs tending, so do these fruits of the Spirit.
What does this tending look like? Think about a champion athlete or accomplished singer. What do they do to perfect their gifts? They practice. Day in and day out, they repeat drills and exercises to fine-tune the natural talents they’ve been given. They listen to coaches or mentors that guide them on best practices and things to avoid that may harm them in some way.
If they do all they’re directed to do, we get to enjoy watching them win the trophy or sing our favorite song. We get the benefit of their diligence and dedication to perfecting their gifts.
The same goes with the fruits of the Spirit. In Jesus’ last days, He told His apostles that it was better for them if He left because He was going to send a Helper as it says in John 16:7.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (NKJV)
The Holy Spirit is our Helper, our “virtual assistant” who enables us to walk in these gifts in this cray cray world. When we are led by the Spirit, we can be calm in the long checkout line. We can be kind to the friend who is struggling. We can have patience with the toddler or teenager. We can be faithful to our employers, spouses, and friends.
I could use this kind of help, couldn’t you?! You see, our natural inclinations are to be the opposite of each of these gifts. Perhaps not all of them, as I certainly know people who have no problem being patient and they have oodles of self-control. But clearly, each of us could use a bit of assistance to perfect these much-desired character traits.
Every day we are given opportunities to flex our “fruit muscles.” We can decide how we will respond to the trials that face us. We can decide to huff and puff in traffic or we can take a deep breath and send up an SOS signal to our Father in heaven.
He knows we struggle with these. He knows that we need help. He knows we are all a bunch of fruitcakes down here who need guidance. That’s why He sent the Holy Spirit. He wants to provide order to our garbage pizzas and everything bagels so that we can live the life He purposed and planned for us so that we can bless others.
We all have seeds of greatness in us. We all are designed and equipped to bear fruit. When we walk hand in hand with the Holy Spirit and let Him guide our steps, we can be assured of a bountiful harvest.
PS – if you’d like to order these books, click here.