Orange trees bear oranges. Banana trees produce bananas. Raspberry bushes grow raspberries. Though I realize I'm only stating the obvious, I must say it: A TREE BEARS FRUIT, REVEALING THE TYPE OF TREE IT IS. Scientifically proven, it's a law of nature. With certainty, I can know the grapevine in my back yard will never burst forth with apple blossoms!
Let's look at a different kind of "tree". Our lives. I will love because I am loving. I will be joyful because I am joyous. I will have peace because I am peaceful, kind because I am kind, patient because I'm patient, self-controlled because I know God is in control. This is the Fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
But what if I produce anger, jealousy, drunkenness, or immorality? What if the thing that hangs from my "tree" is bitter and thorny? The answer is just as obvious as the orange tree that bears oranges - it's just more uncomfortable to look at because, well, it's painful. Like anything in life, we can't fix it if we don't acknowledge it's broken. We may be shouting to everyone around us, "I'm a sweet orange tree! The only reason I'm like this is because YOU make me get like this!" That's a lie, but it's an easy one to believe. Unfortunately, it's obvious to everyone else except us: We ain't no sweet orange tree!
Blame. It's the oldest mind game in all of human history! Beginning in the Garden of Eden, the first episode of The Blame Game played out when God asked a very direct question: "Have you eaten of the tree that I command you not to eat?" Adam pointed at Eve and told God, "This woman YOU gave me, SHE handed it to me and then I ate it." As if on cue, Eve answers, "The Serpent deceived me and then I ate," or more plainly, "The devil made me do it!" I know some of you mamas out there are sighing as this is the story of your everyday life when you ask one of your kids a simple question. The finger pointing starts and the blaming flows like a river. Oh, if only we could get a straight, honest answer!!! It's not just the kids though, right?
I lived blaming others for too long. It was yucky. Thorns and bitterness, anger and judgement grew out of blame. Through tears, I'd tell Daryl after a fight, "I don't know why I am so angry. I just am. I only do two emotions well, so you either get Happy or Angry." When things were good, it was easy to be happy, but if things got tough, I'd blow a fuse. Truth is, when the heat of life turns up, what we're made of gets revealed.
In John 15, we read familiar words spoken by Jesus: "I am the vine. You are the branches. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me." Outside of Him, I can't do it! Let me lay it out on the table; my bursts of anger we not Jesus'. They were mine. Flesh of Candi. It was not a pretty sight. Just call it verbal vomit. No one wants that spewed on them! I didn't know how things would ever change because in those days, I was still playing the blame game. I would think, "It's 'your' fault I'm mad." Here's a secret: If all those who make us mad would change, behave perfectly, or move out of our lives, we'd still be mad. THEY are not the problem. The problem resides in us. What do we do though? I'd just vow to myself, "I will try harder next time not to get so angry." I'd fail. Sometimes I still do!
Let's go all the way back to the Garden again. We see that everything God offered gave us Life. He WAS Life! He still is. The Lie the Devil pitched lead to Death. What was the Lie?
"Did God REALLY say..."
Knowing and listening to God's truth is where we must start. God is the truth teller. God is the truth revealer. God is Truth! And His truth produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. But when I walk in the flesh, I've turned my ear away from the Life-giver and taken a bite of the same lie the Enemy has been whispering since mankind walked the earth... "Candi, did God really say love is patient? He didn't mean all the time. Nobody is perfect. You have every right to be sharp-tongued sometimes! That wasn't fair. Who could be expected to be gentle under those circumstances? You were just being honest!" Whew! It makes me sweat just to type those words. Have you ever eaten that one? Boy, I have! It was a bitter, rotten piece of something!
Just as Adam and Eve pulled their Life-line from God back in the Garden, I do the same thing if I pull my vine from His branch and expect to do anything apart from him. This makes me want to do a whole study on what it looks like to Abide in Christ. Let's finish on a sweet, a truly sweet bite. A bite we can sink our teeth into, whole-heartedly. God will never lie to us. He will always tell us the truth. Don't you love that?
Do you remember in Math class, the word IS and equals were interchangeable? For example, 4 + 4 = 8. Or we'd say 4 plus 4 IS 8. It would only work to insert the equals sign when the equation had the same amount on both sides of it, making it TRUE. Look at a few verses through that same lens.
God is Love. Jesus is Truth. He is Life.
God = Love. Jesus = Truth. He = Life.
Yep. It is what it is. Or better yet, He just says, I AM. Period.
Why should we look anywhere outside of the one who IS the truth we seek? If something is missing in your life, much like a mathematical equation, you need to look for the answer to missing the variable that will make your life-equation equal the truth. Stuffing anything (and everything) into the equation won't make it add up to truth. It only IS, when the equation is True.
"His name is Faithful and True." (Revelation 19:11)
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