My mom tells the story that when my she and dad had two children (and a third on the way), one night they had ice cream for dinner. And that was it. Money was tight, and so, for one night anyway, ice cream was not only on the menu – it was the menu.
Perhaps you haven’t ever had only dessert for dinner – but have you ever had dessert before dinner? The idea there is to start with the best.
There is something to be said for that; especially when we are talking about a list. If you are going to start with a list of what matters, start with what matters most.
I think that’s what my favorite list does, found in the Bible in Galatians 5. It lists the Fruit of the Spirit. And the first on the list is the best; the harvest you most need to demonstrate in your life. It’s love – the choice “to reveal the beauty of another person to themselves,” as Jean Vanier was to have written.
Love is the firstfruits of the work of Jesus in a person’s life. Love is what we do, how we live, what we choose, who we are. As Eugene Peterson has said, this kind of love chooses to love “without regard to shifting circumstances, hormones, emotional states, and personal convenience.” And let’s be truthful about what that means, Peterson continues. “It’s a risky business. We can be taken advantage of; we can be betrayed. Jesus was….”
So, when I am changed by Jesus, I begin to look like him. And looking like him looks a lot like love. And look where love got him!
But when I begin with love, then the other aspects of Galatians 5 also take shape in my life. The fruit of love begins to look like joy, and patience, and kindness, and faithfulness. In fact, it’s not fruits of the Spirit; its Fruit of the Spirit. It’s one fruit, not many. For these fruit are nine bites out of the same apple, if you will. And love is the core that holds it all together.
If you are a part of Fern Creek Christian, we will studying the book of Galatians on Wednesday nights (beginning Aug 13) – a study that will lead us to look at what it means to be free in Christ. And that freedom starts with, and looks a lot like, love.
So, how fruitful are you?