Apples and Oranges
By Overseer Christopher J. Harris
This week’s topic: The Fruit Of The Spirit
There is a commonly-used idiom in American culture, “you’re trying to compare apples to oranges”, which speaks to the incompatibility of two items or objects that really should not be compared to one another. In conversation, someone may attempt to compare one vehicle to another, and the other person would brush off their comparison with, “they don’t even compare. That’s like comparing apples to oranges.” The examples are endless – with technology, clothing, buildings, recreational activities, entertainers, speakers, and even culinary delights.
I think there’s another category that these unfair comparisons apply, and that is the Fruit of the Spirit. For example, it is great to meet nice people with great qualities, but at no point should we put their qualities on the same level of the Fruit of the Spirit. The manifestation of the Fruit of the Spirit in the life of the believer is the result of a powerful transformation that has taken place in the life of a person. It is so transforming that if not for the Fruit of the Spirit, the person who would otherwise have been calloused, inconsistent, and unapproachable is now developing into a well-rounded individual in which the power of God is operating in their life.
Why the difference between the two? More pointedly, when you meet a nice person who has great natural qualities, although admirable, they get the credit only. When you meet a person who is exemplifying the fruit of love (without strings attached), joy (without external influence), peace (regardless of the chaos around them), longsuffering (when the average person would have given up), kindness (to those that others would have discounted), goodness (above and beyond the call of duty), faithfulness (that seems unreasonable and unshakeable), gentleness (handling people and situations with the humbleness of care), and self-control (that is measured with gracefulness and submissive engagement), you must know that these are reflections of the Power of God in that persons’ life and not their own doing. It becomes clear that God is at work in their life. When you see this, God gets the credit not the person.
It also becomes evident that the Holy Spirits’ influence in the life of the believer becomes an evangelistic tool to others that the Holy Spirit can dramatically affect anyone that is willing for Him to influence them. This becomes a powerful statement of what is and what could be. Individuals no longer minimize the effects of the Holy Spirit to just a self-help approach or ‘do it yourself’ exploitation. It reflects a Process of Transformation in which God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit creatively coordinate and engage in the life of the submitted believer who was a hopeless and misguided life wanderer into a purposeful and powerful life changer.
Finally, there is a higher value of the results of the Fruit of the Spirit at work than just being a nice person. Notice what Matthew 6: 19-20 (Message) says, ““Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars.” There becomes a “heavenly-mindedness” that shifts the focus from just people to something much bigger. There becomes a shifting in focus from living life successfully according to culture, to a standard of success guided by God’s Word. There is a shift from human abilities to divine empowerment. It becomes clear that God is at work on multiple people in multiple ways with multiple, ripple effects. It should be the goal of every believer that the fruit of the Spirit is ripe, full-grown, developed, and cultivated in every season of their lives. The results will be sweet to taste and inviting to witness.
It sounds comparable, but I’m not sure that it is. The self-help nice person that is compared with…