I have 3 fairly young children. They are my pride and joy, the light of my life, and at times a handful! Most days they have me belly laughing, pulling out my hair, and praying for strength all at the same time and all before breakfast! This summer, on the wonderful recommendation of our Pastor's wife, we started a fruit of the spirit jar. Now I know I may have just planted a negative picture of my kids by my above comments, but they really are great kids! Her recommendation went out to our whole bible study, not just me!
So after much deliberation, I decided to give it a try. I got out a huge pasta bowl we had received as a wedding gift 13 years ago, but never used (sorry Aunt Mimi! I really did like it!) and filled it with colored rocks from a craft store. In the middle of the rocks I put another smaller clear bowl. As the family came down for dinner that night I introduced our "Fruits of the Spirit" jar. I asked my 3 kids (ages 9,8, and 4) if knew what the fruits of the spirit were. My 4 year old, ALWAYS eager for the center of attention, nearly jumped out of his chair!
"I know, I know, I know."
"Okay, JT name a fruit of the spirit."
"Apples and bananas and..."
Ugh! I have FAILED as a parent!!! The only redeeming aspect is that my two older children were quick to point out that no, those were in fact NOT fruits of the spirit but actual fruits! They of course could only name a couple of the fruits of the spirit but it was a starting point. We spent the rest of the meal discussing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. What they were, how you could show them, why they were important. And then we made the deal!!! Every time we caught any one of them exhibiting a fruit of the spirit they could put a rock in the clear bowl. And when all the rocks had been moved from the big pasta bowl into the small bowl we would celebrate as a family with a Royal's game!!
So off they went showering each other with love, joy, patience, etc for the rest of the summer and we all live happily ever after... OK, no not really! It HAS been a great tool for us. The kids actually get a big kick out of putting rocks in a jar! Well, truly they probably get a big kick out of us finding things to praise them on, the positive reinforcement of good behavior breeds more good behavior. But this biggest benefit of this exercise has been what it taught me!
I have learned an AMAZING lesson in all this. There was one morning I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. You will soon discover I am NOT a morning person, and this morning was particularly rough. It seemed to be the kids were especially difficult and there were NO fruits of the spirit being displayed, and then it dawned on me..."are YOU showing any fruits of the spirit?" Hmm, that would be a no. And then I made the connection, to recognize, see and acknowledge the fruits of the spirit you must first exhibit that fruit of the spirit. In order to see love, you have to have love. In order to see and recognize joy, you have to have joy!! They same can be said for each and every fruit of the spirit! This was kind of ground breaking for me! I quickly said a prayer asking for His grace, love and peace to settle over me and before long rocks were being earned!!
So how about you, are you filled with the fruits of the spirit? To find out more about them check out Galations 5:22
I hope to talk soon! We are off to a Royals game!