Monday, May 7, 2012

My Fruit

During my devotional time for the past week, I've been reading Matthew (don't ask about what happened with Thessalonians, that is a whole other blog post) and really enjoying it. Of course I've read Matthew before, as it is a very popular book of the Bible. It's straightforward, easy to read and even funny at times (or is that just me?). It's full of literary metaphors and similes, which I love, but also has some regular dialogue too. Every time I reread it (or any other Bible verse/chapter) I get something different out of it.

"Therefore, by their fruits, you shall know them." -Matthew 7:20; New King James Version.

"Just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, you can identify a person by their actions."Matt 7:20; New Living Translation.

This verse really spoke to me today. Like most things recently (as in the past 3 years that I've been a mom), it made me think of my kids. Afterall, they are my literal fruit.

When we're out at the mall and my oldest says "bless you" when someone sneezes, that's a reflection of what I've taught him. Unfortunately, it's also a reflection of me when he says "shake that booty" and dances around the room. (Hey, don't judge me, it's super cute to hear/see him do it!)

Our fruit is whatever we put out; our actions, words, deeds. And our little carbon copies pick up on all of it. They learn to lie from us (telling someone on the phone that you're making dinner, but you're really watching TV), they learn acceptable behavior from us (not wanting to be in time-out all the time can do that) and everything in between. The biggest things they get from us are the things we don't want them to pick up on. The inadvertent (and of course very rare) curse that escapes our lips when we stub our toe on the coffee table for the third time, the anger that erupts when we find a new Popsicle stain on the carpet, the eye rolling and sarcasm that emerge during a conversation with the spouse... yes, parent are to blame for it all!

But, on a positive note, they can also glean some good stuff too. Like, seeing what love is from the kiss and hug your spouse receives as he leaves or enters the house, learning what it means to be kind by saying nice things to neighbors or friends or making special gifts for other's birthdays.

Actual fruits start as seeds, grow from tree limbs, are plucked and eaten, then used by the body for energy. The same could loosely be said for our own fruit.

When we first begin trying to bear good fruit rather than bad fruit (doing/saying positive things rather than negative things), it's just a seed; just a small thought or action that nobody notices but you. Once it finally blossoms into full-grown acts of kindness and words of encouragement to others, it's ready for picking. Helping the elderly neighbor with her groceries or volunteering to babysit for a tired, stressed friend are how our fruits can manifest. When we choose to bear good fruit, we have an opportunity to lift someones spirits, give them a little boost of energy that they may have been in need of to get them through.

So, while Jesus was probably referring to the bigger picture of a lifetime of good fruits, I think the smaller picture of conscious good fruits on a daily basis can help us reach that goal. And knowing we have little eyes watching us (or at least I do), waiting to reenact our every private moment... well that's even more motivation to be a tree that bears good fruit, so that they too can bear good fruit in their own time.

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