I recently visited the new Butterfly Atrium at the Hershey Gardens with my family. It’s a wonderful place, perfectly setup as a walk-through experience inside a butterfly’s world. There were colorful flowers and plants, a little stream, and big chunks of fruit set out, where butterflies lounged and filled up on nectar. There were all kinds of butterflies: from teeny tiny ones to ginormous. We walked through on the path, watching each step since the butterflies roam free, flitting to and from wherever they please. While may were in flight from here to there at any given time, we found some hanging from flowers, others clung to the windows, and a few liked to plop down right in the middle of the path. Everyone carefully approached to get a close look at their wings and take some pictures of these amazing creatures. I was thinking how special the experience was…and how different it would be if it were any other bug. I mean, nobody wants to visit all sorts and sizes of spiders in their natural habitat! There’s something about butterflies that makes us feel comfortable and even a little mystified. Then…out of no where, a butterfly landed right on my nose! And do you know what happened? Nobody shooed it off. No one rolled up a news paper to swat it. And I had zero urges to flick it away. Instead, everyone responded with incredible delight, treating me as specially chosen by this butterfly. Phones and cameras emerged and we all giggled until it finally detached its sticky little feet from my face and flew away. It would have been so different if it were any other bug.
In the days after that experience, I’ve wondered how people would respond to me if I were a bug. Are there qualities about me that sting like a bee? or smell like a stink bug? or cause concern like a mosquito? Do I have a problem with boundaries like ants at a picnic or drone on loudly like a locust? I hope not! I really want to be like a butterfly. I want people to feel at ease–and even special if I come close. And the good news is: God wants us to be like that, too! The fruit of His Spirit certainly makes us beautifully attractive: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) None of those are scary or intimidating–and we are marked by those qualities because of Jesus living in our hearts. If you don’t feel like those things describe you very well, I’ve got more good news: Jesus Christ makes us into a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The old stuff is gone–and we are transformed. That’s something butterflies can relate to! 🙂
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A segment explores the question, “What is the Fruit of the Spirit?”
These are character qualities that are found in Galatians 5:22 and 23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
These are the qualities that flow out of the person who walks daily with God, and make our witness more fruitful. Many of these same qualities are listed in the book of Second Peter chapter 1. Verse 8 says, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If you know anyone who consistently demonstrates the qualities found in the Fruit of the Spirit, you know how refreshing it is to spend time with them. They become godly examples for us to want to be more like Jesus.
So, as we are receptive to welcoming Jesus in our lives and taking His words to heart, we will find ourselves growing in godly character and being a more fruitful witness of the Gospel in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on a life transformed by God’s grace.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Second Corinthians 3:18, “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
The power of the Holy Spirit works in the believer’s life to reflect the character of Christ. These character qualities include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are the qualities that were fully demonstrated by Christ and they have a growing influence on our lives as we follow Jesus step by step. These are the qualities of the Fruit of the Spirit, and they become the ingredients that invite others to taste and see that the Lord is good.
A life transformed by God’s grace is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – From 2 Peter 1, verse 5 to 7.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control, and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
These are the qualities that reflect character development in the life of a devoted follower to Jesus. Many of these qualities are mentioned elsewhere as the fruit of the Spirit. Adding these virtues to our character can multiply opportunities to be a witness for Jesus. It was Jesus who took five loaves and two fish and multiplied them to feed 5,000 people. He can take what we offer Him, and multiply the impact.
Verse 8 says, “If you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Fruit of the Spirit is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.