You know how theologians always say that the Fruit of the Spirit is recognizable that it is something that happens TO YOU rather than something you bring about by your efforts? I want to report to all readers (including you) that this is True. I’m experiencing it. Example.
A dear, dear friend of mine, Amy, has lived through 2 difficult divorces. The thing Amy has always wanted to enjoy most in this earthly life has been “a great, Christian marriage”. I remember when she was much younger, before she was married, she would talk all the time about her dream of a “Great Christian Marriage”, which was the words she would use. She has tried twice, was meticulous in the carrying out of her role faithfully, but lost both marriages to serial adultery from her husbands. Now as she is older, she is possibly facing living out her time in this earthly life without ever having experienced the great blessings of marriage.
Well, through the many years of her marriage disappointments, I’ve played a major role in “helping her” in many ways. She’s always expressed gratitude for my involvement.
Well, here’s the punch line. The other morning, as I was at my computer and my wife was on her way out the door to work, as she passed by me sitting at my desk, she heard sobbing and saw me crying vigorously at my desk, tears dropping onto my keyboard, shoulders “heaving” up and down as I cried violent and audibly for what ended up being 30 minutes, I guess. She asked me what was wrong. Almost unable to speak clearly, I told her through my tears that I just realized that I had NEVER really “felt” Amy’s pain. But I, all of a sudden, was experiencing/getting it. I had never stopped to ponder/experience/share how painful it must be to have lived through what she has. I told my wife “I know I helped her but I never, ever, really understood or even TRIED to understand her suffering.” Instead, I dutifully went about trying to “be a good Christian” by helping. I was always quite satisfied that I had done the right thing in helping her so much. But, in the end, it had really been “all about me”, at least to a significant degree. I was trying to establish my own “righteousness” by helping her. But, there had been no room for real Love for her. But I had been blind to this.
But in a moment that morning at my computer last week, having learned about God’s 100% Grace within the last 2 years, everything looked different to me. In a FLASH, I had a clear understanding how devastating it must have been for her to live through all this and anticipate a possible future without ever having truly had satisfying, healthy marital love in this life.
Well, with no thought on my part, my heart was smashed in a moment. I LURCHED forward at my computer and tears fell and fell and fell, audibly. An almost violent crying spell. I got understanding of her pain not in the dispassion of my “mind”, but in the tenderness of my New Heart. I hadn’t even stopped crying by the time my wife got out the door to her work.
My friends, this is LOVE. It’s different than SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. Although, Love and self-righteousness CAN look exactly the same. These two can seem in distinguishable from each other. When you experience self-righteousness, it can masquerade, EVEN TO YOURSELF, as Love. You can feel you’ve been “loving”. But, once you understand the 100% Grace of God and your heart is changed, through nothing you’ve done, to no credit to you, you experience real Love and realize that the Plastic Fruit you’ve experienced for so long, was actually SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. It had been “all about YOU” most of the time, although neither you ror the people you’ve “helped” have knownit at the time. This has been my experience. And a very profound experience.
I called Amy that day to share that I had a revelation that I had never really loved her in her catastrophic experiences. That I now understand and CARE (a difficult confession) about her pain. That I love her but that, for my self-righteousness, I had had my heart “turned off” as to her suffering all these many years. But I had never known it. I had just pursued my quest to be a “Good Christian” with regard to her difficulties. PLASTIC FRUIT, BABY!!! PLASTIC FRUIT!
Even I was deceived. Now, at this moment of revelation and “confession”, although I was feeling NO GUILT personally, because I had learned about God’s 100% Grace toward me, I was now experiencing True Love for Amy. In a FLASH of understanding that morning in front of my computer, I realized that I was experiencing TRUE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. Something that had happened TO ME, rather than BY ME, brought about because I had come to understand, in the months prior, the 100% Grace of God which had made everything NEW for me. Including some new compassion for Amy. Some real LOVE for Amy.
Why am I writing this? Because with my blog, I had set out to document and share my experiences of the early months of growing into understanding and enjoying the 100% Grace of God and the TRUE, EFFORTLESS Fruit of the Spirit.
I’m here to report to you what it is really like to experience The Fruit of the Spirit as something that happens TO YOU in a very profound way when you come to believe in the 100% Grace of God. As I count the 9 Fruits listed in Galations 5, I see major growth in all 9 of them. Never before in my Christian experience of 30+ years, had I experienced the effortless growth of True Fruit, not by any efforts of mine. I had experienced the Plastic Fruit of my own efforts. And because I hadn’t experienced the real thing, I took my efforts as real Fruit. WRONG. I’ve now experienced the Real Thing.
My advice to you, my friend. Don’t TRY to make this experience happen for you or to you. It can’t be by your efforts. Instead, if by reading this, you realize that you may be caught in self-righteousness, masquerading as True Love, seek to grasp the 100% Grace of God toward YOU!!! If you want to know HOW to pursue this, you can ask me about this by comment on this blog. When you fully grasp this, you will see True Love pouring out of your heart without effort.
If this post leaves you feeling “left out” in any way, remember that it took me 30 years after “conversion” to understand these Truths. I believe during these 30 years, I was saved. But it took me 30 years to understand the 100% Grace of God. Basically, I’ve died and gone to heaven. But, I’m still here. Crazy, huh?