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On our rainforest honeymoon seven years ago, my husband and I were amazed by the amount of fruit trees that grow in the jungle. Plants growing bananas, papaya, and coffee beans were abundant. Each morning, we feasted on breakfasts bursting with fresh, juicy fruit. Early before sunrise, the chef would venture into the forest, pick bananas, and whip up the tastiest banana pancakes known to mankind. Fresh bananas straight from the tree are a delicious fruit- a treat to be savored.

Bananas left by a toddler in the van on a hot July day, however, are a different story.

A few weeks ago (remember that week it was really hot?) I opened our van door to load up my little ones and was greeted with a strong, pungent, and mysterious smell. I searched and could not locate the source of the smell, so we just drove with the windows open and hoped it would air out. It didn’t. After an additional day or two my husband and I found, nestled behind a car seat, the dripping, black remains of a very old banana. It was gross in every way and on especially hot summer days like this week, you can still catch a faint whiff of old, steamy banana.

Just like fresh jungle bananas and sun-roasted toddler bananas, there is a very big difference between good fruit and bad fruit. The Bible speaks often about identifying fruit in our lives, and the blessings of having good fruit and consequences of embracing bad fruit.

Bad Bananas

When my husband held up that rancid banana, we both gagged and trashed it as fast as we possibly could. We wanted nothing to do with such bad fruit and the odor permeating everything around it. Paul describes what this type of smelly, rotten fruit looks like in our own lives:

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:
immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities,
strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions,
factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing,
and things like these, of which I forewarn you,
just as I have forewarned you,
that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Galatians 5:19-21

This is quite the list. Are there any fruits of the flesh in this list that you have seen in your own life? Have you been jealous of anyone this week? Have you gotten angry and yelled at your children this week? Are there things you idolize above the Lord? These fruits are rotten bananas, and when we allow them to become an accepted part of our lives, it is like we are holding that gross, drippy, toddler banana and giving it a hug. Because these bad fruits are so common in culture, we often justify them in our own lives thinking maybe they really aren’t that bad. After all, isn’t it normal to be jealous of a friend’s lovely home or a social media influencer’s exotic vacation? Is it that big of a deal to consume too much alcohol or dabble in horoscopes, reiki, and crystals? Do disputes, dissensions, factions, and strife really matter if the other person definitely deserved it? Isn’t a lot of that list kind of a gray area anyway?
Yes, maybe banana sludge isn’t so gross…maybe I can put it in the fridge and save it for later!

When we consume banana sludge, we risk getting sick and probably experiencing food poisoning. Although unpleasant, food poisoning does end and we can go on with our lives. But the consequences of bad spiritual fruit are much more severe. Paul tells us that those who practice these bad fruits will not inherit the kingdom of God. Not only will our souls be sick with sin, but we put ourselves in eternal danger.

When we consume banana sludge, we risk getting sick and probably experiencing food poisoning. Although unpleasant, food poisoning does end and we can go on with our lives. But the consequences of bad spiritual fruit are much more severe. Paul tells us that those who practice these bad fruits will not inherit the kingdom of God. Not only will our souls be sick with sin, but we put ourselves in eternal danger.

When we first discovered that melted banana, my husband and I had no doubt or discussion about throwing it away. Immediately, he rid our lives of enduring another second of smelling decaying fruit. Likewise, when we see bad fruit in our lives- the fruit of the flesh Paul warns about- we have to seek God, repent, and ask Him to help us flee from bad fruit like our lives depend on it. Because, in a way, they do.

Good Bananas

“But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;
against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23

While Galatians 5:22-23 looks lovely on wall canvases and throw pillows, the fruit of the Spirit does much more than add aesthetic beauty to our home decor. The fruit of the Spirit is powerful encouragement that, through the help of the Spirit, we can live lives that glorify God. An amazing thing about the fruit of the Spirit is that…it is of the Spirit! How easy it can be for me to seek joy, patience, and peace in my circumstances instead of in God alone…yet my circumstances are constantly changing! It is easy to have joy when my day is going well. It is easy to have peace when I know my family is healthy. It is easy to love someone who is lovable. But once my plans fall through, a child is ill, or a friend says something hurtful, it is much more challenging to have joy, peace, and love.

What a comfort to know that this fruit of the Spirit comes solely from God, obeying and loving Him, and knowing Him personally. True love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control come not from our relationships, situations, diagnoses, financial stability, or a lack of conflict. These things come from knowing we have a heavenly Father from whom nothing can separate us (Romans 8:38-39), and with whom we will spend eternity with in heaven (Revelation 21:3-4)! We have a Savior who has freed us from the death and penalty of sin (Romans 6:23)…in this truth we can find true peace.

Conflicts will come and conflicts will go, yet God is constant. As we seek refuge in Him and ask Him to help us abide in Him, we can see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives:
We can love even the most unlovable person we know.
We can have joy even when anxiety and sadness try to creep into our hearts.
We can have peace even in seasons of deep uncertainty and trials.
We can be kind even when another person hurts us.
We can be good even when we see evil getting its way.
We can be faithful even when we don’t understand everything about God.
We can be gentle even when others are harsh with us.
We can have self-control even in the face of great temptation.

The Fruit That We Eat

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good,
or make the tree bad and its fruit bad;
for the tree is known by its fruit.”
Matthew 12:33

 

What fruit do you see in your life?
Is there unexplainable peace amongst trials you encounter?
Do you see unexplainable forgiveness in your heart towards those who have deeply wounded you?
Do you see the fruit of the Spirit in your life?

Seek the fruit of the Spirit. Ask God to give you unwavering love, joy, and peace that is rooted in Him alone and not your circumstances. Rotten fruit of the flesh, like a rotten banana, will sicken your soul. Ask God to help you turn from it and seek Him.

In love,
Jackie

Jackie Long

Author Jackie Long

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