“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deed. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendSHIP, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” Saint Basil

Everyone already knows the health-giving value of fruits. Not only is fruit nutritious, it’s cholesterol-free, filled with needed fibers, and also tastes good. Although some fruits have more benefits than others, most would agree that fruit is beneficial in maintaining optimal health. Last week while in the produce department, I was in search of some sweet, juicy, and nutritional fruits. As I searched for watermelon, some cherries, peaches, and plums, I thumped, poked, and squeezed the fruits, looking for the right texture and consistency. Some were too soft, some were medium, and some were hard. As I continued to shop, I remembered that fruit was important in biblical times too, and began to ponder the Spiritual Fruits.  Since Spiritual Fruit is an expression of what is happening in a person’s spirit or heart and how it manifests into external actions, words, and attitudes – how we love and serve others, I began to question if I lived A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE. Do you live A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE? Is your Spiritual Fruit the right texture and consistency? For years, mine wasn’t. My texture was hard because I pretended as if nothing bothered me. How about you? Are you getting the daily required nutritional intake of Spiritual Fruit? I’ll admit for years, I wasn’t but now I DO!!! So for this week’s blog, let’s talk SHIP about living A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE!!!

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is a biblical term used to define the nine attributes of a person or community, living in accordance with what the Holy Spirit, should possess. According to the 5th chapter of Galatians, the apostle Paul tells us what the Fruits of the Holy Spirit are. Paul says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And Webster defines fruit as –the fleshy or dry ripened ovary of a flowering plant enclosing the seed or seeds. Paul labeling these nine attributes as fruits, combined with Webster’s definition, seeds– leads me to believe that we must sow these seeds in order to live A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE. In order to reap, its full harvest, we have to plant them into our daily lives. But, I can honestly (and embarrassingly) say, that I’d never practiced any of these attributes until I was in my early thirties. Never thought about it. Until then, I unknowingly lived a tit for tat kinda life. But one night, years ago, all that changed. I was going through a difficult time. I was laid off and had relationSHIP issues-so I got on my knees and began to have a truthful prayer seeking GOD’S counsel. Shortly after I began to pray, I heard a response. I heard a voice that sounded like mine, but it made more sense than I ever could say, “You’ve not been kind”. “You’ve not been gentle”. “You’ve not been understanding”“You’ve not been patient”. As I continued to listen to the voice ramble off THE FRUITS, tears began to stream down my face, and painfully I realized those words were true. I had never knowingly attempted to work on the fruits.  I, unfortunately, lived my life responding to the world as it responded to me. It was during that prayer, that I recognized that I was living a FRUITLESS LIFE.

My quest was to be understood without having to understand. I treated people the way they presented themselves to me. If you wanted to cuss, I would cuss too.  If you wanted to fight, no problem I would oblige., I’d fight too. Whatever you were bringing, I was giving it back. I never tried to be understanding, gentle, meek, or patient.  NEVER!! Never even thought about it. I wept because at that moment, during that prayer, I realized that I had let GOD down. I hadn’t been a good representation of who HE is. Even though I considered myself a Christian, my words and actions said otherwise. I wasn’t utilizing any of THE FRUITS consistently in my daily life. I wasn’t being who HE created me to be because I wasn’t living A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE. ThE Fruits of the Holy Spirit weren’t incorporated into my daily life. I wished I had because I would have reaped their benefits and nutritional value much sooner. Instead, as I look back, I can only imagine how my poor choices and bad decisions were the results of living a FRUITLESS life. Because now, through experience and practice, I KNOW that A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE certainly has its rewards and benefits. But, what are they? What are the benefits and nutritional benefits of living A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE?

Just like produce has its nutritional benefits, so does living A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE. Living A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE filled with the sweet, and juicy fruits of the Holy Spirit has a transforming power in our lives. A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE will alter our Personality and shape our views. It gives us confidence knowing WHOSE we are. It makes us more loving, more patient. and more gentle. It provides us with a solid foundation to build relationSHIPS with ourselves and others. A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE gives us a Joy that can change our perspectives. When struggling we get peace and joy from knowing that HE is a waymaker. Joy allows us to see the Kindness and Goodness in others. A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE gives us Hope. Hope in knowing that with faithfulness, we can overcome- any and every– obstacles because through HIM ALL things are possible and knowing that HE only wants the best for us. Hope in knowing that despite living in uncertain times and having uncertain futures, HE WILL provide security and will take care of us. Hope in knowing that regardless of the challenge, circumstance, or situation, HE WILL hold our hand through it and comfort us. A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE will allow us to tap into GOD’s power of peace and let things go by leaving them at HIS feet. A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE will give us self-control and assurance because we know that HE loves us and will guide us by the power of the Holy Spirit. A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE allows us to have loving and positive relationSHIPS with GOD, ourselves, and others. Certainly, there are many, many more nutritional benefits that living A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE offers, but to reap these benefits, THE FRUITS must be practiced and applied daily for them to be effective.

My desire to live a life, pleasing unto GOD meant that I needed to make some changes. I realized that to live A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE, I needed to incorporate the Fruits of the Holy Spirit into my everyday living. And from the day of that prayer when I heard HIS voice, I made the decision to do just that I made the decision that I would continuously make an effort to work on being kind, gentle, and more loving. I make it a point to be understanding and to practice patience with myself and others. To be honest, making the effort to live A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE was the best decision that I’ve ever made. Although. I sometimes get it wrong, and it hasn’t been struggle-free, it has been a more meaningful and loving life. Living A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE has offered me more peace, and more joy. Living A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE has allowed me to tear down walls and accept that being sensitive is not a flaw, it’s an asset. So the next time you are out shopping for fruit, thump, poke and squeeze your own fruits to see if they are the right texture and consistency. If they are not, A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE is just a decision away!!!

SHIP TALK: Are you living A FRUIT-FILLED LIFE? What is the texture and consistency of your fruit?

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