The manse in Colborne where Susan and I lived for seven years was originally built as a retirement house on the property of an apple farmer. Years later when the house was severed from the larger property, seven apple trees came with the property. The trees had not been looked after for years and it was a job bringing them back; pruning, spraying and so on. It was hard work and I soon learned that I was certainly not cut out to be an apple farmer! Having said that though, there was tremendous satisfaction in looking after those trees and being able to just walk out the door and pick a fresh apple right off the tree. The work and effort were certainly worthwhile and it recently occurred to me that there is a parable between this and our spiritual lives.
In his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul makes reference to what he calls “The fruits of the Spirit”. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the nine qualities that ought to characterize or distinguish our lives as the disciples of Christ. What we have to realize though is that while these qualities are, in varying degrees, present in everyone they do not just spring forth in all their goodness and fullness. Just as an apple tree must be cared for if it is to bear good apples, so our spiritual lives must be nurtured if they are to produce the fruits of the Spirit. There are many ways of nurturing the fruits of the Spirit including regular worship, prayer and scripture reading. Sometimes we may dismiss these activities as unimportant or a waste of time but nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed the importance of these activities was brought home to me by this little story.
Years ago a person wrote a letter to an editor questioning whether ministers should really spend so much time working on their sermons. Few sermons are memorable and so he asked if the time ought to be spent more usefully. His letter set off quite a discussion but one person’s response caught my attention. That writer calculated how many meals his wife had prepared over the years. Few of them really stood out in his mind but even so, as he observed, without them he would have starved to death long ago.
There is a parallel between this and our spiritual lives. Without such as regular worship, prayer and scripture reading our spiritual fruits wither away but if we nourish them? The impact can be tremendous in our lives and in the lives of others.
Wishing you a most fruitful Thanksgiving!
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