Inventorying My Fruit of the Spirit Menu
Travel can be wonderful. But business travel is generally more like death by paper cuts. Last week I landed and was still a bit famished even after the eight tiny pretzels snack I was graciously given in flight. So I began to peruse the food options. I spotted a smoothie stand and that sounded perfect. So I headed over and made my pick.
“I will have the Peanut Butter Zone smoothie.”
The worker turned and looked at the menu as if that order was a complete surprise. Maybe she thought she was being pranked for one of those cable shows. Perhaps I was making stuff up. She carefully examined the ingredients on the menu board and turned to me.
“We ain’t got no peanut butter.”
Disappointed but still determined I pushed on.
“Then I will have the Protein Power Berry smoothie.”
Slowly she turned to see what ingredients might be in this order which also appeared to take her by complete surprise.
“We ain’t got no protein powder.”
This is where I realized that I am making significant progress in my grace journey. This young lady would have had a very large dose of edgy sarcasm in previous beta edition’s of Dave Burchett faithwalk. But I bit my lip and simply said this.
“You might want to take those things off the menu if you don’t have them.”
Later I reflected on even that comment and felt a tinge of loving conviction from the Spirit. In my Christian example I have done exactly what this poorly trained worker did. As I have poorly represented Jesus I told people that many things were on the menu. A whole variety of spiritual fruit was listed boldly on the board. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. I imagined a little parody of my concession experience.
Spiritually famished sojourner sees my fish cross bumper sticker. Since this is a sure sign of spiritual maturity the seeker boldly approaches and surveys the menu.
“I would like to have peace.”
I turn and examine my life. It is anxious. Frightened. No different from him.
“I don’t have much peace today.” (At least my grammar is a little better than the worker above)
The spiritual seeker looks a bit disappointed but is still hopeful.
“I would like some joy.”
Slowly I examine my life. Frustrated. Not content. A lot like my seeking friend.
“I don’t have any joy right now.”
It was so easy to demean a poorly trained employee representing a random smoothie company that frustrated me that day. Yet I expect grace when I, a poorly trained Christian, fail to represent Jesus and frustrate those I hope to bless.
Slowly I am beginning to comprehend grace. Good buddy Mark sent me this snippet from the book The Search For Significance by Robert S. McGee.
"Our true value is based not on our behavior or the approval of others but on what God's word says is true. Our behavior is often a reflection of our beliefs about who we are. It is usually consistent with what we think to be true about ourselves (Prov 23:7). If we base our worth solidly on the truths of God's word, then our behavior will often reflect His love, grace, and power. But if we base our worth on our abilities or the fickle approval of others, then our behavior will reflect the insecurity, fear, and anger that comes from such instability."
I have been learning the truth of those words in recent months. When I trust who God says I am I begin to stock the ingredients listed on the fruits of the Spirit menu board. God declares all of the following list to be true about me… a broken down TV director. And all of these things became true from the MOMENT I trusted Christ:
- I am forgiven. Col 2:13–14
- I am a child of God. John 1:2; Rom 8:15
- I received Christ's KIND of life, eternal: John 5:24
- I was delivered from Satan's domain and into the Kingdom of Christ: Col 1:13
- Christ came to dwell with me. Col 1:27; Rev 3:20
- I am a new Creation: 2 Cor 5:17
- I am declared righteous by God: 2 Cor 5:21
- I entered a love relationship w/ God: 1 John 4:9-11
- I am accepted by God: Col 1:19-22
Wow. I am wrapping my heart and mind around all of that this morning. I am filled with humility and gratitude for these unmerited gifts given to me that day and every day since. So if my imaginary encounter happens today I pray it will go a little more like this.
“Yes, I would like to have some joy.”
“Grande or Venti? I am overflowing with His abundant love today. Thanks for stopping by and letting me serve you.”
May I leave you with some familiar words from Paul? You can order freely from the menu through the power of the Holy Spirit. And the check has already been picked up by Christ.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. (Galatians 5, NLT)
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.