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Humility (Not a Fruit of the Spirit)

“I think she’s gotten a little too big for her britches.”  Hmph!  Now there’s a statement none of us would like to overhear.  Humility

That commonly used phrase means someone has been thinking a bit too highly of herself – the opposite of today’s NOT a Fruit of the Spirit: Humility.  As a side note, with the current fashion trend of skinny jeans and leggings, it would probably do for all of us to make sure we’re not “a little too big” for our britches! 🙂  But I digress.

Humility is not included in the list of Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and I wonder if it is less a fruit and more a protective bug spray?  This summer I am watching the Japanese Beetles demolish my roses, raspberries, and Rose of Sharon.  I think these bugs must be a lot like pride. The roses themselves are beautiful, but the beetle sitting in the middle takes away from that.  Not to mention the holey leaves and empty stems that cause you to want to divert your eyes rather than enjoy what should be beautiful.  Clearly the plants are producing beauty, but it’s immediately ruined by the bugs.

So what about us?  Do we let pride kind of ruin the good fruit being produced in us?

The Bible says to “clothe yourselves with humility toward one another” (1 Peter 5:5).  When we are clothed with humility, the beauty of our gifts and fruit can shine through.  (And if my plants were “clothed” with bug spray, their beauty would also show through!) This doesn’t mean that we must think our gifts are useless.  It doesn’t mean that we are worthless.  It doesn’t mean that we must remain silent.  But it will mean finding our identity and worth in Christ so that we have no need to draw attention to ourselves.  There is no better way to accomplish this than to spend time in the Word and prayer.

I found this helpful article by Doug Britton on what Biblical humility is and is not:  Biblical Meaning of Humility.  May your roses be beetle free, your life be clothed with humility, and your “britches” be just the right size!

 

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Fruit of the Spirit – Gentleness

Gentleness – awww….isn’t this little guy cute?  Kind of a picture of gentleness 🙂  Both sides of the blanket are super soft but that fuzzy minky fur and cozy flannel are just calling out to be held against your cheek.  So soft.  So gentle.

And then there’s this:

Today’s Mystery Item

 

One summer tradition I have with the kids is to head over to Lehman’s Hardware Store and each pick out one of their old-fashioned bottles of soda.  It would have been nice to show you a photo here, but we carried out this tradition yesterday and drank it for supper 🙂  All that remains are these super cool bottle caps that I’ll be turning into magnets with a little hot glue.magnets

Anyway, on the way to Lehman’s we stopped at a thrift shop where I picked up that little mystery gadget for just 35 cents.  What is it, you ask?  Why, it’s a sweater comb!  And it doesn’t look particularly gentle. But it’s purpose is a worthwhile one: to remove “pills” from your favorite clothing.  The bottom edge is a small wire mesh that, when rubbed in one direction across clothing, removes those pills and can make that item look new again (or so they say!)  But that hard plastic and wire mesh look anything but gentle.  However, what is interesting to me is that while it feels scratchy on skin (yes, we played with it all the way home), it does not damage the fabric when used as directed.  I found some testimonials of those who used it even on delicate knits and did no damage.

And so maybe there are two kinds of gentle?  Or maybe it’s just the case that our outer appearance doesn’t need to have any affect on our inner gentleness.  Others may come across all plastic-and-wire, but if they speak the Truth then we can give it respect.  But I guess I’m hoping that sometime I grow into the soft-puppy-blanket type of gentleness.  That my words and actions would not only be grounded in the Truth, but feel more like “awww” and less like “ouch”.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.  James 3:17

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Red, White, and Blue

Red White Blue

A short break from the Fruit of the Spirit for a little Red, White, and Blue.

These three colors were used on a flag created for this new United States of America in 1776, but there was no explanation given as to why they were chosen.  It wasn’t until the official seal of the United States was created and finally adopted in 1782 that the colors were assigned meaning:  White for purity and innocence.  Red for bravery and valor.  Blue for vigilance and justice.

We celebrate freedom, but the original Independence Day couldn’t possibly free everyone living on this land from all that holds them captive.  In a most obvious way there was still slavery and countless social injustices.  And then there would still be all that binds the heart and mind like bitterness, past pain, insecurity, you name it.  These freedoms come from only one Source.

Free, free, I’m free at last!  Red for the blood shed on the cross for me, for you, for all.  White for new life in Christ, washed clean from staining sin.  Blue for the presence of God.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.  Isaiah 1:18

God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them that from now on they are to make tassels on the corners of their garments and to mark each corner tassel with a blue thread. When you look at these tassels you’ll remember and keep all the commandments of God, and not get distracted by everything you feel or see that seduces you into infidelities. The tassels will signal remembrance and observance of all my commandments, to live a holy life to God.  Numbers 15:18-40 (MSG)

Happy Independence Day!

 

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Fruit of the Spirit – Self Control

It’s “Talk Less Tuesday”!

Never heard of it?  Neither had I until I made it up after a Monday of constant chatter.   I was kidding, sort of, but it did get me thinking yet again about how much talking we do.  It’s not hard to link control of our tongues to self-control in general.  James has a great section on that very topic, comparing the tongue to a fire and showing how such a small part of our body controls the whole thing just like a really small rudder can guide a whole ship.  (James 3:1-12)

Yesterday morning this sign was placed close to my house beside the last turn-off before, as the sign says, the road was closed:

Self-Control

I happened to be outside quite a bit through the day and was able to witness car after car zooming by, only to go back past in the other direction after a minute or two.  It’s so frequent a happening that in just the last 20 minutes as I’ve been sitting by my window this morning I have already seen six vehicles do the same thing!  And, if we are honest, probably many of us have done this as well.  We clearly see a “road closed” sign but wonder if we might get closer before we have to turn off.  Or wonder if (hoping!) the sign might be outdated or incorrect.  For some reason we don’t immediately use the sign to help us and so end up spending extra time as we test it out and then have to turn around.

The same thing can happen with our speech.  We have an idea that what we’re saying is going to cause a stir, or that we should quit while we’re ahead, or that we might be about to hurt someone’s feelings.  Noting this little “road closed” sign in our conscience, the Holy Spirit trying to give us a heads up, we ignore it and start with something like, “I probably shouldn’t say this but…” or “I don’t mean to be mean but…” or some other disclaimer that really – if we are honest – means “I should not be saying this out loud.”  Occasionally we might get away with it, but more often we end up with the same feeling that we have when we have to turn our cars around and go back to the detour.  Waste of time, waste of gas, a little embarrassing, and I should have just paid attention to the sign.

As a fruit of the Spirit, self-control includes more than just controlling our tongues, but it seems a pretty good place to start.  As Proverbs 18:21 says, “The power of the tongue is life and death— those who love to talk will eat what it produces.”  May the fruit of your speech be sweet!

 

 

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Fruit of the Spirit – Faithfulness

The Ants Go Marching!  That’s the name of this taggie blanket, and perhaps the theme of my last two days.  Yesterday I was greeted by tiny ants in my cupboard and on my countertops (insert feelings of disgust and violation here).  This morning I see there are similar ants enjoying a stroll along the edge of the shower in the bathroom.  Since these particular two rooms aren’t right beside each other, I imagine a vast network of underground tunnels where billions of ants are going about their business while I’ve been naively living my life above.

When I mentioned this ant situation to someone yesterday, she replied with “it’s that time of year”.  And it is; it’s not at all surprising.  We just kind of forget about them all winter.

Not unlike God’s faithfulness in and around our lives.  When something amazing happens and is shared with us, we might respond with, “God is faithful”.  And He is; it’s not at all surprising.  We just kind of forget about it at times.

Faithfulness is related to being trustworthy, true to one’s word.  And while the fruit of the Spirit list in Galations 5:22-23 is showing us the characteristics that can be developed in us as we mature, they are really descriptions of God.  As Herbert Lockyer says in his book All the Promises of the Bible, “His promises are backed by his faithfulness which runs like a golden thread through His Word.”  Over and over and over we see evidence of God’s faithfulness whether or not the persons involved knew of His work behind the scenes.

This is true for your life as well, and here are some Scriptures to back that up.

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord  1 Corinthians 1:9

And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  Psalm 36:5

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.  Psalm 86:15

Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.  Psalm 119:90

And then there is this fabulous Sara Groves song to remind us of that same thing – He’s Always Been Faithful.

 

Luckily, cleaning the kitchen and sorting out cupboards – which falls on many spring cleaning lists but got pushed back to summer for me – was on my agenda.  The ants are just the motivation I needed to get me moving on this task.  And to help get rid of that violated and disgusting feeling as I check each cereal box and spice jar, I’m going to try to see each ant as a reminder that God has been and will be faithful.  My your day be filled with similar reminders (but no ants!)