"by their fruits you will know them"
A friend of mine gave me some homemade jam on Sunday. She didn't have any great need to make her own jam; she doesn't have a surplus of home-grown berries or anything. I guess she and her daughter had an urge to make jam, so they went out and bought berries, and made a couple dozen jars. Then they brought them to church, and handed them out.
I don't know if she'd been holding one for me. We've been friends a long time, and maybe she thought, "I have to make sure I give her one; she'll appreciate that." She's the kind of person who'd do that sort of thing.
It's also possible she just handed jars out to the first two dozen people she saw, whether she knew them or not. She's the kind of person who'd do that sort of thing, too.
But even though I've known her for a long time, and we've had the opportunity for many deep, heart-to-heart talks, somehow the subject of homemade jam has never come up. So I don't think she could possibly know how I feel about homemade jam.
I feel very strongly about homemade jam. There are few things better in this life. Honestly. Although I think part of the reason I feel so strongly about it, is that I can't make it myself. Or I won't. Or I don't. I don't know... There's too many steps; you have to watch it closely; making sure the jars are sterilized, etc; it's too easy to screw up.... I don't have the patience or the energy or something.
I still remember several Christmases ago, in the family draw-a-name gift exchange, my cousin pulled my name, and gave me a couple of cute Christmas towels, and two jars of raspberry jam. I have no idea what I gave to who that year. But I remember that jam. My mother-in-law has given me a few over the years, too. And I think a friend of my sister's. But that's it. See how they stand out in my mind? I've tried nearly every commercial jam/preserves in the store, except the ridiculously expensive ones, and nothing compares to homemade. They can use a fancy script on their label; they can call them "fruit spread" or "delectably-preserved-fruit-topping"; they can combine fruits in new and unusual ways, like "Watermelon ~ Orange ~ Mulberry" or whatever. Not the same.
But my sweet friend knows none of this. She simply made jam, and shared it with people. And that brings me to today's verse. I know my friend pretty well, and I know her heart and her love for people. But if you met her for the first time, and she handed you homemade jam, you'd get a pretty good idea what kind of person she is. "By their fruits you will know them..." means that our words and deeds give others insight into our character ~ for good and for bad. You can put on your best face for others, like you might on a first date, or meeting your prospective in-laws, but sooner or later, who you really are is gonna come out. My sweet friend showed love, kindness, and goodness with her raspberry, strawberry and blackberry, but if you didn't see it in her jam, you'd soon see it in a thousand other ways. The Holy Spirit in us is manifest in many beautiful ways. The problem is, we generally give the glory for those fruits to each other, not to Him.
So I'm grateful to God for the love in my Awesome Girl, the joy in my Amazing Boy, and the goodness in The Apple of my Eye, as well as the kindness of my jam-making friend. I'm thankful that each of these people has God's Holy Spirit in them, and I'm so thankful that I get to enjoy the fruits of His Spirit in my life!
"the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."