How do you know when you have ripe fruit? We have all been the grocery store or the market sniffing peaches or thumping watermelons to make sure you taking home something ripe. Why do we search so hard for ripe fruit? Because ripe fruit tastes sweet! It is the sweetness - the juiciness of that first bite that makes all tests in the produce section worth it.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! God has fruit. With all the layers of His character that make Him who and what He is as Father, Son and Spirit- at His core He is just and He is sweet. What flows from His core, He wants to flow out of ours.
We see them in Galatians 5:22 & 23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against these, there is no law. This is the type of fruit you can load up on at the breakfast buffet with no guilt. God's fruit is ripe- at the peak of perfection- and you can never over indulge.
But, when I am honest with myself, my fruit doesn't always look like His fruit. Okay there are days when my joy looks ripe, but my patience has a bitter taste.
Ripe fruit-sweet fruit- is usually mature fruit. Fruit that has started as a small seed. It's been on the tree or the vine for the right amount of time. It's in good soil and has had the right balance of sunshine and rain. The taste of the finished product is unmistakable. It cannot be duplicated with added sugar.
This is how the Spirit treats us. We are fruit in more ways than one. He tends us like the master gardener He is. He makes the adjustments-the pruning- in us to make our fruit ripen and our yield double. Not everything ripens in the same season, but at the end, we will be heavy leaden and overflowing with the attributes of the Almighty.
Sometimes the things that help us ripen and makes our fruit mature are challenges and heartaches that are not so sweet. In fact, they can be quite bitter. I keep thinking of our brothers and sisters in a Charleston bible study who showed the fruit of God's spirit to a man filled with hate - a man who they did not know wanted them dead. They opened their arms to him, welcomed him with love of Christ, studied scripture with him and prayed on his behalf. Those nine people did not know that this bible study would be their last witness. However, it was a fruit filled witness. Their killer stated that he almost didn't go through with it because of how kind the people were to him.
He, like Felix, was almost persuaded. Whether our witness persuades our neighbors or our enemies is not the point - we must show forth His fruit regardless of the world's response. Those bible study members gave a fruit filled witness. My prayer today is Lord ripen the fruit in me that is still too tart to taste so that those who meet me will see His glory.