Jesus encourages us to: "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can
bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit
unless you remain in me." (John 15:4, NIV2)
What kind of fruit can we expect?
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Gal 5:23b, NIV2) and "Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others." (Matt 6:12, MSG)
Not everyone bears healthy fruit: "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?" (Matt 7:16, NIV2)
So many proclaim they are followers of the Most High, but their fruit indicates otherwise. We either serve our Heavenly Father, or we serve ourselves.
However, this fruit of the Spirit does take time to show up in our lives: "And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2Cor 3:18, NIV2)
I would like to focus on one of these fruit: the fruit of forgiveness. In this world, people would rather sue people than forgive them. Our bosses aren't prone to forgive us for mistakes that we have done, either. At times, they yell at us for things we haven't even done. Marriage was supposed to be a blessing, but now days, everyone thinks about themselves, and divorce is on the rise. Forgiveness is fleeting in such circumstances. In fact, there is way more hate than forgiveness. Turn on the news and reality will hit us hard!
Forgiveness does still exist, however, in fact. Quite vividly among those who are the followers of the Most High. Jesus is our example. He was crucified on a cross. How easy it would have been for Him to condemn these vile people. Instead he did the impossible: "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'" (Luke 23:34a, NIV2)
That same Jesus gives us grace to forgive those who have hurt us. Let me illustrate this with what happened to a grandmother in a Denny's restaurant a few years ago. Madge Rodda was well-known in Christian circles, and she was often invited in churches to share with others what she experienced on that dreadful day many years ago...
Madge used to be a church organist. Every Sunday she began her day by going to a Denny's restaurant around three in the morning for breakfast. This would give her the necessary nutrients; but she also used her time there to pray and read her Bible. After all, her church started at 7 A.M.
She never made it to church that day. While going to the restroom, this grandma was attacked by James Bridle. He was high on drugs and was reading a porn magazine. He wedged the door shut with his magazine.
After Madge stepped out of the stall, he approached her with a knife. It was a nightmare. He assaulted her, repeatedly bashing her head on the floor, trying to choke her, and even succeeding to cutting her throat. He even tried to sexually assault her. Her white blouse was drenched in her blood.
Madge fought against her assailant with all of her strength, a grandmother less than 5 feet tall, against a young, tall, ferocious man. Needless to say, she was also praying vigorously for deliverance.
Eventually the assailant fled the scene, but before leaving, he told Madge: "I too believe in God, but my mind is poisoned by the evil one. I need help." He then fled out of the restroom.
The Denny's manager noticed him fleeing the restaurant. He tackled him and kept him until the police arrived. James Bridle was condemned to 17 years in prison.
Madge had but one goal, however: "That poor man needs help. I will give him a Bible." She visited him in prison and told him she forgave him. She began to write him regularly, and James replied every time. She even sent him gifts, and they became friends.
In her testimony, when visiting churches, she always urged people to not let emotions cloud their minds; instead, she encourages them to trust in our Father who will always provide His grace to be able to forgive.
Can you imagine a world where forgiveness reigns? It would be quite different from what we see in today's news, don't you think?
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34a, NIV2)
What kind of fruit are we producing? Delicious, juicy fruit? Or rotting, smelly fruit? Are we willing to forgive as Jesus does?
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