No one will ever confuse me with an expert gardener. When it comes to landscaping, I generally operate under the "two for one" principle. I buy two plants and plant them. If in the back yard, one of the two will probably be eliminated by the dogs. If in the front yard, I'm likely to kill one of the two myself. This probably isn't the most affordable or effective strategy, but it seems to work. We actually have some shrubs and trees growing around our house.
I haven't done much with fruit and vegetables. Ronda has some herbs growing in pots on the deck, and we have two tomato plants. I've actually done okay with tomatoes, but last year one of our plants, in the dirt and not in a pot, just didn't produce. That's frustrating. You know, I just can't imagine planting a tomato for any reason other than, well, harvesting tomatoes. Maybe someone will come up with an alternative.
In Galatians, Paul is talking about what it means to live life by the Spirit of God. Such a life, he argues, would never be expressed in, "sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like." (Galatians 5:19-21). Instead, a life lived by the Spirit of God looks like this: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23) In other words, a spiritual life produces the fruit of the Spirit. Why else would you plant (start) such a life?
Now, imagine that I used my gardening strategy for my relationships with others. "You know, 50% isn't bad. I'll be kind to one person, and it won't matter what I say to the next. If I love this guy, I can really cheat the next one. If I hold my temper here, I can just explode over there." It seems crazy to even consider. If we lived that way we'd be constantly denying the very Christ in whom we believe.
This week you'll be offended over politics. This week you'll be annoyed at work, or at home. This week someone will have an opinion, and so will you. This week you'll experience pressure to choose a side. This week you'll have the opportunity to cross a boundary.
God "planted" us with the expectation that we would bear fruit. I challenge you to take a "fearless and searching moral inventory" (the language of the 12 step groups) of the fruit you're bearing. I challenge you to think and pray about what needs to happen to increase your production. I challenge you to choose at least one immediate step that moves you toward greater production.
Our world needs the fruit of God's Spirit, and we need it right now. We've been placed in our part of the world as a farmer's market, to distribute the fruit of God's Spirit to those around us.