Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fruits of the Spirit

Professor Howdy has a joke that he often recycles which purports to tell of a professor asking his class about opposites.

"What is the opposite of happiness?" "That would be sadness."

"What is the opposite of love?" "That would be hate."

"What is the opposite of woe?" he asks a particularly obtuse country bumpkin. "That would be giddy-yup."

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control are the fruits of the Sprit referred to in Galatians 5:22-3. If we have the Holy Spirit we have these fruits to show for it. Does that mean that if we do not have the Holy Spirit we will be full of hate, miserable as sin, given to warring, impatient, unkind, bad, unfaithful, rough and out of control?

You see, you have fallen into that trap haven't you?

If we lack the Holy Spirit we are not comic book villains. We are ordinary human beings. We walk by people in need, affecting not to notice. To be honest we don't really care much about Africa or Bangladesh; we are more concerned about what's happening to the economy.

We are not miserable. We're just not happy-clappy. There is enough in this world to get upset about and there seems to be no end to it. Sometimes things appear pretty hopeless, but perhaps Barack Obama will fix it (of Hillary or McCain or Romney).

We are not warlike, though if those Iranians continue to get uppity we might have to go to war. We're just a bit anxious about the future.

Silly to think of us as unkind. I treat people as I find them. If they're nice and polite, I can be reasonable too; but if they get aggressive with me I return it in spades.

I think of myself as a good man; I mean I pay my taxes and I wouldn't kick a dog or anything.

I'm faithful to my wife. There was that time at the office party, but that was just a snog; it didn't mean anything.

I wouldn't call myself rough and unthinking; mind you I'm nobody's sissy. I call a spade a spade and don't suffer fools gladly.

I suppose I've got a temper, but you have to provoke me. I don't go around shouting the odds, but sometimes - I mean that Bill O'Reilly (or Dan Rather if you’d rather).

The fruits of the Spirit are positive virtues. They are supernatural virtues. When we behave like normal human beings, they are missing.

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