Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fruits or Gifts?

In the daily course of our walk with Christ, we sometimes face a few conundrums...

Like fruits or gifts?

 The perfect weight loss program!
Oh my! Can anyone resist one of these...

To specify; Fruits or Gifts...of the Spirit, of course!

Gifts of the Spirit are those wonderful, supernatural stuff that Superheros have in abundance. In 'The X-Files' terminology, definitely paranormal. A few commonly known ones...
Speaking in tongues- I speak a language I don't know
Interpreation of tongues- I translate a language I don't understand
Visions- I can see the future
Miracles- impossible is nothing
Healing- Doctor? Who needs one!

And so on and so forth. Gifts are endowed on us by the sheer virtue of being children of God and being a part of his Church. They are renewed and strengthened by a healthy sacramental life. Any baptised Christian can exercise any of the gifts. The catch being, it is to be used to build up the Church.

What about the fruits? They are characteristics of the new you in Christ. When Christ promised, you will be a new creation, He meant it. Not in metaphorical terms but in the literal and absolute sense. eg:
Love- Jesus's look of love after Peter denied him (Lk 22:61-62)
Joy- Apostles rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ (Acts 5:41)
Peace- "At the bottom of my chalice there was peace, always peace" - St. Therese of Lisieux on her sufferings
and patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, faithfulness in long suffering, modesty, mildness, self-control and chastity. 

Fruits describe you, describe what you have become. Utterly, Christ-like.

Fruits, like in nature, are a product of time, effort and patience. They are not just handed to us, they are a product of continuous working by both the Father and us. The continuous pruning by Abba and our continual surrender to him. Is it easy? No.

Is it worth it? Absolutely

It is by your fruits that the Gates of Heaven open unto you. Remember Matt 7:22! They prophesied, cast of out demons, worked miracles in Jesus's name! All those wonderous gifts of the Holy Spirit! The Master called them evil doers and wolves in sheep's clothing.

Why were the wielders of the Gifts shunned? I don't really know. It could be that they grew proud of their gifts and in their hearts, exalted themselves; the Sin of Lucifer. It could be that they loved the gifts more deeply than the Giftor. It could be the catch, that they did not use their gifts to build the Church but misused it for their own ends.

Then, there were those who did not quite understand what the Lord was talking about (Matt 25:35).
Then the upright will say to him in reply, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  
When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome, lacking clothes and clothe you?
When did we find you sick or in prison and go to see you?"
What you did unto others, you did unto the Lord. Love, kindness, generosity, faithfulness etc, all fruits of the Holy Spirit. I don't think any of the saints ever prayed for gifts;, instead they prayed for fortitude in the face of persecution, patience in the midst of trail, faith in the face of fear, love for their enemies. Even Mary, the Mother of God did not have any miracles to show during her entire lifetime. There seems to be some wisdom hidden here...

To desire or to pray for the gifts of the Spirit is not a bad thing. It is to build the Church that the Spirit clothes Christians with power from above. But with all things that bring power, the human heart is easily corruptable. Seek first the holiness of God and desire to bring forth plentiful fruit and the gifts will come to you, without your asking.