My grandmother use to tell me “Honey, don’t worry; truth will out.” And another one she’d remind me of was “The proof’s in the pudding.” Never quite understood what pudding had to do with it, but she seemed to be very sure of herself!
In our culture of instant gratification, we have a particular difficulty in waiting. We want everything right now. We want what we want because we want it. And if it takes a while getting to me then that must mean something’s wrong!
But one of the marks of maturity is the ability to embrace delayed gratification. Learning how to pay the price for achievement makes reaching your goals all the more sweet.
Another side and weakness of our impatience knee-jerk reactions without counting the actual cost of our actions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve regretted moving too quickly, but I can count on one hand and not even have to use my thumb to count how many times I’ve waited too long.
But the consequences of our lack of patience and peace wouldn’t be so devastating if these consequences didn’t affect real people, real relationships, and real lives. The truth is though I may be a free, unique, and unrepeatable person, I am also a person made for community. This means my choices, my behaviors, aren’t mere freedoms to be exercised as I wish, but real and concrete actions that send ripples through my life and the lives of those whom I am connected. It can’t be avoided. My actions affect others.
And that’s how it should be, dear ones. We were made for each other. We were made to learn how to live in community. God gave us the gift of family to begin that training process and then He grafted us into His New Community, His New Society, the Church to further our training and shaping. We want to reduce all this to mere “principles” or “rhetoric” or family dynamics and psychology, but God has something more in store for us. He means to use this hard work to shape the character of Christ deep within our hearts, if only we will cooperate with the work of His Spirit to do this eternally important work.
Notice today’s Gospel Lesson. Jesus gives us eternal wisdom, eternal truths that are simply inviolate. They cannot be ignored and one hope to have anything approaching a fulfilling and joyous life. We ignore this wisdom at our own peril. Oh, yeah, the Lesson is Luke 6:37-45. Read the whole thing, but notice a central theme when Jesus declares “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:43-45
Regardless of our words, our actions reveal our true selves. Good fruit comes from good seed. The converse is true as well.
The preceding passage gives us the path to producing “good fruit” in our lives, to reaching the worthy and hard won goal of spiritual maturity: Don’t judge, Don’t condemn, Forgive easily, Give generously. Take the log out of your own eye before you try to help someone else with the speck in their eye. You need to be able to see clearly before you try to mess around with other people’s lives!
When we put in the effort, time, prayer, training, obedience, and faith into creating that kind of patient endurance and faithfulness, we are blessed by God with the “good fruit” of faithful lives. Can you think of any goal more worthy of patient work and faithful labor?
Today, what is your talent? What are your gifts? What are you doing to purposefully hone these talents and gifts with the wisdom of the faith so they are used to build up the Body of Christ? Are you being patient with those around you as they struggle to work out their own salvation? Are you being patient with yourself as you confront the important issues in your own heart? Where is the “log” in your eye? Until you find it and ask God to remove it, perhaps it would be best if you refrain from pointing out the “specks” in your brother’s eye.
Learn the lesson of patient and maturing and purposeful application of Christ’s wisdom so that the relationships around you aren’t too adversely harmed by your spiritual poverty and weakness. Know the Lord desires you to be a person filled with the good fruit of patience, love, forgiveness, and hope. Don’t despise the discipline of the mistakes of your lives, but embrace these hard won lessons and give the pain of maturing the proper dignity it deserves.
Today, Don’t Judge. Don’t Condemn. Forgive easily. Give generously.