This is another installment in the series where you asked the questions and I give the answers. I don’t have all the answers but you can at least be entertained by my dancing around the questions. You can see the other post in this series here. We have had a ton going on the last few days so I decided to keep it to one question today.
Kris Overtoom wants to know:
What fruit of the Spirit has God developed the most in you while being a missionary?
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
I read a school of thought that the fruit of the Spirit is one fruit with these many characteristics. Whether it is one fruit or many I tend to be the “before” picture of many of these things not the bright shiny “after” that people strive toward.
Full-time mission service is a magnifier. It magnifies whatever weakness or sensitivity we may have. It increases the pressures we feel. It’s like a boiling pot. We put that fruit in and turn up the heat. If we manage to keep moving in the right direction we won’t get burned. The heat removes the excess (water) and impurities. In the end we become an extract of fruit. A jelly or jam if you will. Jesus Jelly. You heard it here first.
When I came on the field I thought I had myself pretty much together. I thought I was living the fruit. I have found that each of these things work in a chain linked to the other.
- I found my love was/is conditional. My love for others was mounted to a sliding scale based on criterion outside of the their need for a Savior. Do they please me in some way?
- I found my joy to be in the same state as my love. I had joy before because it was a part of my happiness. However, when that happiness was/is removed my joy flees with it.
- My peace has been battered over the last four years. Again, its base was faulty and was not of the sort to endure. I’m learning a new peace.
- I didn’t have much identifiable patience before. The conditional state of love and joy puts a boot to the fanny of patience and replaces it with arrogance. If I’m right then I don’t have time for your ignorance.
- I am kind. I like to be kind to those who deserve it. The fact that I think I can determine who does deserve it negates the kindness.
- I am not gentle. I am human sandpaper sometimes. I am loud and boisterous. I probably wouldn’t be called a smooth operator most times.
- Self-control has been my nemesis since the beginning. Here even more so with my American-I-Know-a-Better-Way arrogance. It’s simply a different culture. Our way may not work here and my road rage, heavy sighs in parking lots and willingness just to by-pass those in charge will not make anything better.
To borrow the current Christian pop-culture lingo, “I’m keeping it real, transparent, raw and authentic” today.
What characteristic of the Fruit of the Spirit do you need to work on?