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Fruitful followers of Jesus

Cross thoughts: Christian ideas seen in Sudanese every day life.

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”,

Galatians 5:16, 22-23.

How many kinds of fruit can you see on this one market stall? Look as closely as you can. You may miss some. I make at least 20, but there will be more, especially if you can recognise different types of the same basic fruit.

When you watch people buying fruit, you will notice they don’t like fruit that is bruised, scratched or otherwise damaged. The purchaser puts down fruit which is over or under ripe. He may judge this by touch or smell, or sometimes both. Fruit should come to market with it’s skin intact, leaving no room for disease or vermin to have entered through a rip, a burst or a tear. People are quite rightly “picky” about the fruit they buy at the souk.

When God talks about a Christian life “bearing fruit”, He has every right to be demanding in the quality He wants to see in us. God doesn’t just want to see “love”. He wants to see sacrificial and loyal love. God is not really satisfied with “joy” when He sees us just having fun ourselves. God prefers selfless joy to selfish happiness.

What kind of “peace” does God want? I am sure it is not only the absence of fighting and war, important although that is. God is likely looking for a steady quietness of heart which brings all feelings under firm yet gracious self-control. Events in Sudan’s future will judge how genuine a peace we have before us at the moment.

Patience is the strong ability to wait with a quiet confidence that God will ultimately bring the just cause to the forefront, and people will recognise that God’s way is the best way – indeed the only way to really progress.

Kindness involves doing to, and for, other people the things you would really enjoy someone doing for you. It doesn’t expect anything back in return.

Goodness must be through and through all we are and do. We have all bought some fruit that has then gone rotten from the inside out! No-one likes that to happen, ever!

Faithfulness we see in the loyal service given by some to their career, serving through the good and the bad times, equally well.

Gentleness gives attractiveness to any person. It exudes grace and mercy, having firsthand personal experience of both.

Self-control I mentioned above under “peace”. The two are invariably linked.

If God should come to buy some fruit from the stall of your life this week, will He be pleased with what He sees? Will He buy a lot? Or will He turn to go elsewhere, with a sadly disappointed look on His face? May our lives give our Lord sweet refreshment!

February 2011.

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