Our reaction to news of floods, fires, and other disasters can be confusing. We feel compassion for the victims, but we have our own lives to deal with.
A few years ago when Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake, my friend was already in Haiti on a mission trip. Having survived, she remained in the disaster zone to help in the recovery efforts. I was amazed.
All my life I have observed people who seemed to be innately kind, generous, and patient, and I wished that I could be naturally good, like them. I was discouraged because I had to work so hard at it. The Bible calls those qualities I admired the Fruits of the Spirit and tells me I should have those qualities is my own life. I supposed this might be easy for the “good” people, but for me it was a struggle.
It’s taken me years to realize that comparing myself to others and judging myself for not measuring up was just another form of self-centeredness. I used my feelings of inadequacy and guilt as a sort of penance for not measuring up; an attempt to rationalize away my responsibility to others: if I’m so much worse than others (for whom being “good” comes so easily, remember) then I can’t be expected to reach out.
The truth is just the reverse. If a person reaches out to others in Jesus’ name, despite natural self-interest, it plants the seeds of spiritual fruit. Doing the hard thing, for Christ’s sake, is what makes “goodness” become a natural part of oneself. Christ used the symbolism of fruit to demonstrate how this spiritual maturity comes about in a person’s life. Most fruit growing in the wild is small and bitter, while the cultivated variety, the result of hard work, is so much more satisfying.
When I look at people like my friend, I remind myself that her beautiful spirit is the result of hard work and sacrifice. I try to admire, rather than envy, such people as I work to hoe out the hard clods of my selfishness and pride, pull the weeds of conceit and self-indulgence from my life, and pour out the living water of Jesus’ love. My garden is only beginning to blossom… but with some more cultivating I think it may have potential.
Another insightful wise post. You are amazing, Jonna. Trust me. You have more flowers in your garden than you know. Satan is the deceiver. Yes, we can always do more, but should we. Sometimes helping others (children, grandchildren, strangers) prevents them from growing stronger in Jesus name.
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a valid point.