EDITORIAL: This editorial was penned by Jay T. Hairston (see full bio below)
As a boy growing up in my family one of the great memories of Christmases past, was the big bowl or basket of fruit my mother would put out on the table for all of us to freely eat. It seemed like she found the biggest, reddest, applesâ€”sometimes yellow and green ones too; round and juicy oranges; brightly colored tangerines; humungous clusters of red, white and blueÂ grapes; long ripened yellow bananas; succulent fuzzy and smooth pears (brown, yellow and green ones) and perhaps a rotund grapefruit or two as well. Maybe this was done in your household too with a similar or slightly different arrangement but you get the drift, right? However it seemed like any and every piece of fruit we ate during those times tasted so good! Why was this the case?
- Was it becauseÂ my mother had only put out the freshest fruit she could find?
- Was it because it was Christmas time and we were so excited for the season?
- Was it because the house was filled with so many wonderful scents from all of the baking and cooking?
- Was it because fruit like this was only sat out at special occasions and not on a regular basis?
Whatever the reasons were for the great taste, that bowl/basket of fruit was a rare and much welcomed treat. It was there for our consumption whenever we felt the urge to eat something. Not only was the fruit good to us, it was good FOR us! We were eating healthy snacks that helped to provide the daily nutrients we needed to survive. Back then as kids, we were not concerned about the caloric content,Â the daily nutritional values and quotients or anything else, we just knew it was GOOD!
All of these fruits were further adorned with a variety of nuts still in their shells with the proper nutcracker and picking utensils on hand to help you get the nuts out of their shells. Again a large variety of nuts from almonds, to pecans, to walnuts, to Brazilian nuts, to sometimes even Pistachios and more were dispersed around the fruit. What a beautiful display of nuts and fruits!
In the fifth chapter of Galatians, the Apostle Paul was admonishing the people to walk by the Spirit when it came to how they dealt with themselves and others. He later focused on the kinds of â€œfruitâ€ they were portraying in their daily lives. In other words what kinds of spiritual fruit were they displaying or â€œsitting outâ€ for people to see and consume?
Paul goes on to give concrete examples of whether or not we are sewing, producing and giving fruits of the flesh which represents our own selfish, sinful ways or the fruit of the Spirit which represents God\’s nature and character. These two types of fruit are diametrically opposed to each other.
Fruits of the flesh (verses 19 -21) include: “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities,Â strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger,Â disputes, dissensions,Â factions,Â envying,Â drunkenness, carousing, and things like theseâ€¦â€Â So the question is, “Am I guilty of putting out any of these kinds of fruits this holiday season on the dining table of my character and the countertops of my integrity?â€
Or perhaps, my issue is that I’m not producing/presenting any fruit at all? In Matthew 21:19 Jesus in a hungered state cursed a fig tree because it had produced no fruit. Of course He knew it was supposed to be a fig tree/Christian because it had leaves. Leavers are things we can see from the outside like a person who goes to church services, has a title like Pastor, Deacon, Mother, Sunday School Teacher, Minister of Music, etc., serves on boards, ushers, sings on the Praise team and in choirs, plays an instrument, pays tithes and offerings, even speaks in tongues and prophesizesâ€”you get the idea!
I may even take on the shape and look of good fruit. Think about the person who dresses up in suits and dresses, carries big Bibles, says â€œPraise the Lordâ€œ all the time, leads the morning prayer, etc, but is that what a fig tree (a real Christian) is supposed to look like?Â I think we have to look past the leaves, shape and lookâ€”all of these external cues can mislead us. Just like the tree in the story, I can look like I am bearing the right fruit on the outside but beÂ barren in reality.
Was this tree was a fake, an imposter, a false representation, a cheap imitation of a fig tree or one could even say, a hypocrite? It had the form of â€œgodliness but lacked the power (fruit) thereofâ€ (2 Timothy 3:50). Â Let\’s not be guilty of being a hypocritical Christian. Let\’s not say one thing and do another. Let\’s not act a certain way on Sundays, at Prayer and Bible study, at Praise Team and Choir rehearsals, around other Christians, but other ways other times, ways that are not pleasing to God nor reflect His character. After all you don\’t want to be cursed do you?
Here are some things we can do to put the RIGHT kind of fruit on the table this Christmas:
- EXAMINE – What is your character really like? Are you guilty of looking one way on the outside while ignoring the fact that you are bearing the wrong fruit or no fruit at all?
- CONFESS – If we are guilty of bad fruit or no fruit at all, we need to immediately confess our sins. We have to be honest about who we’ve been before we can take the next step.
- REPENT – Repent and seek forgiveness from God and from those we have trespassed against.
- FORGIVE – Forgive those who have trespassed against us (e.g. those who have hurt, talked about, lied on, stole from, hated on, cheated on, played on, taken from, misspoken about, misinterpreted what they think they saw or heard about us).Â God will forgive us as we forgive others. (See The Lord\’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9 -15)
Now the FRUITÂ of the Spirit (verses 22- 23) is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,Â gentleness,Â self-control; against such things there is no law.Â Sound familiar? This is the kind of fruit God wants us to put out on our tables this Christmas! Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)!
Here are 5 things you can look forward to when you put the right fruit on the table of your lives for others to enjoy:
- We will live and walk in His Spirit and our fruit will be GOOD!
- We will see lives changed and transformed, starting with us.
- We will see yokes destroyed and burdens removed through the power of the Holy Ghost!
- We will see relationships restored and wounded hearts mended.
- We will see bridges to old friendships being repaired and new bridges of mutual respect and understanding being built in our families, churches, communities, countries and the world!
So again I ask, â€What kind of fruit are you putting out this Christmas?â€ Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Jay T. Hairston is married (Sylvia) and the father of three children (Jay T. II, Jharie and Jason).Â He teaches â€œThe History of Gospel Musicâ€ class at Baldwin Wallace University and has received numerous awards for his achievements in leadership, gospel music, and the arts.Â He is also founder and chief executive officer of his own publishing company, Jatih Publishing, Inc.