Citrus fruits

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I cleared U.S. customs at the Miami international airport recently. It was my first point of entry back into the country after a mission trip to Jamaica. The customs agents’ job is to make sure nothing harmful or potentially dangerous is brought into the country. Good thing I didn’t try to sneak any illegal fruits in my luggage! What I did bring home was a riper appreciation for the Fruit of the Spirit.

Anyone who has been on the mission field knows it’s not easy. Often you must step away from your cozy life of comfort to reach the poor and less fortunate. Go find the hungry and feed them. Locate the thirsty and give them a drink. Seek out the naked and clothe them. Look for the sick and those in prison and go visit them. As Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “Whatever you have done unto the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.”

That type of “love in action” requires being led by the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, the apostle Paul lists the Fruit or the evidence of the Spirit. The one bunch of nine attributes is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These are the ripe, fruitful qualities true Christians should be producing as we mature spiritually.

So a key question today is, are you ripe enough to be picked? Right now, could God pick you to represent Him well, or “trust with trouble?” It’s easy to go to church, lift holy hands and sing “how I love Jesus.” Any unripe, immature Christian can do that. But then comes the pruning and perfecting through the word of God and life’s challenges. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. And He expects growth. So check the fitness of your fruit:

Do you “love your neighbor as yourself” as Christ commanded us to do in Matthew 22:39? Remember, love is patient and kind. It envies no one. It’s never boastful, conceited, rude nor selfish. Love is never quick to take offense. It does not keep score of wrongs. It does not take pleasure in the sins of others. That’s love. And love is just the first attribute of the Holy Spirit.

Pick patience: Are you working on being more patient with your agitating co-workers? How about gentleness? What are you doing to be less abrasive and more gentle with your spouse? Do your children witness you flying off the handle? Or are you allowing the Holy Spirit to teach you to master self-control?

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