Late summer was always the time when my parents had extra tomatoes and zucchini from their garden that they gave away to friends and neighbors. The abundance of the harvest led to acts of generosity and sharing. Those who received from our garden’s bounty were happy to have something fresh and healthy to eat. And the time spent conversing and catching up with my parents was an added and joyful benefit to the passing along of the produce.
This activity reminds me of the fruit of the Spirit that we pass along and share with family, friends and neighbors. The Holy Spirit has given us an overabundance of the fruit of the Spirit, so it is only natural for us to want to freely give to others of our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Happiness comes to those who receive the fruit of the Spirit from us. It increases their faith. It grows their relationship with us. And it fills them with health for their souls.
What ways can you be like a gardener giving of God’s bountiful crop? Making a visit to a loved one, sharing a story that touches the heart, sitting with someone who is waiting at the hospital, supplying a meal to someone who is overwhelmed with work and family life are some of the ways to be a good gardener for God of the Holy Spirit’s fruit. Keep all growth in the Spirit going!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5
One part of the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness. And in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he wants to make sure that this congregation’s gentleness is evident to all. Why? Because the Lord is near. Our gentle ways should be what people are seeing at work in us when the Lord returns.
In a world that is often hostile, angry and at odds with one another, our gentleness as Christian people can stand out. What do we mean by being gentle? We only need to look to our Lord Jesus when he was on this earth for guidance. He said, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). He took little children into his arms and blessed them (Mark 10:16). He spoke gently even of those who were crucifying him, saying, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
In the same way, we can be people of gentleness by being humble in our approach to people, by embracing children and caring for those around us in a loving way, by blessing those around us with the peace of God and encouraging them in their endeavors. We can be gentle in our forgiving of those who have hurt us, recognizing that we are all sinful and in need of the grace and mercy found only in the cross.
Even when we witness to others of the hope we have in Christ, we are to do so “with gentleness and respect,” St. Peter says (1 Peter 3:15). We need to be comforting in how we share our faith, not overbearing. Our goal should always be to be kind and helpful and reassuring. That is what gentleness is all about. Be gentle in your ways today, with the help of God.
One of my favorite songs on Christian radio these days is “Soul on Fire” by Third Day. Take a listen:
What I like most about this song is the strong beat and the positive uplifting tone. There is excitement and movement in being a Christian in the world that is sometimes lost in our often ordered and mannered worship.
The reality is that there is the fire of the Holy Spirit burning within our souls. And that Spirit’s fire needs to get out and spread to the people and circumstances around us.
And what helps us to release that Spirit’s fire from within us? As the song says, it is our desire through the Holy Spirit to be “running for (God’s) heart” and “longing for (God’s) ways.”