“Marley was dead to begin with. There was not doubt whatever about that.” With that opening, Charles Dickens begins his redemptive story of goodness overcoming evil in “A Christmas Carol.” One of my favorite themes in the book is the relentless goodness of the character of poor Bob Cratchit towards his mean-tempered, miserly boss, Ebenezeer Scrooge. Even in the privacy of his own home, Bob refuses to speak ill of Scrooge. He lives Romans 12:21 and conquers evil with good.
Last night, my husband and I watched the movie, “The Man Who Invented Christmas.” This tells the story of how Dickens wrote this cherished Christmas tale. We were fascinated by the author’s writing process; the way characters came to life for him. It became clear that the character of downtrodden clerk, Bob Cratchit, was most likely based on a real person in Dicken’s life. This was someone who consistently showed goodness to others daily, even odious gumps like Ebenezer Scrooge.
Would anyone argue that the world needs more goodness? In Ephesians 5: 8-9 Paul indicates that the fruit of walking as children of the light is the light itself plus goodness, righteousness, and truth. We are the ones God designed to bring goodness to the world. In this second week of the devotional, “Four Gifts,” I give you five days of goodness. Just like last week, I’ll share here, in this post, the first day’s meditation and scripture. For a free download of all five days, please go to my website at pastorsfeistywife.com under “Bible Studies and Devotionals.” These are written in simple language so you may use them with a range of ages, including children.
Week Two- Day One- Goodness
Verses: “Every good tree bears good fruit,” Matthew 7:17 NIV. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control…” Galatians 5:22 ESV.
To Think About
My son in law chopped down an ugly dwarf crabapple tree from our yard. I did a happy dance when we yanked out the stump. I never liked that tree. It was ugly. Second, it dropped apples so bitter even birds would not eat them. Third, all summer long it poked out new tree shoots all over the garden, that needed to be cut back. I put up with this ugly mess for two summers after we moved to this house. This summer the tree turned mean.
One day, I grabbed my garden shears to cut off some shoots. I grabbed the first one and felt sharp pains in my fingers. Surprised, I pulled off my garden glove. Blood ran down my fingers. I looked in the glove to see if there was a bee or some thorns. Nope. I looked at the tree shoot. It was covered with large, thin thorns. I crawled around and looked at all the shoots. They were all thorny. For two years the shoots only had little green leaves on them. Now they had thorns.
I think the tree got angry that I kept chopping off its little tree babies. The tree decided to get even. Well, not in my yard, sister bear. There is a Japanese Maple in that spot now.
Jesus said that good trees produce good fruit. He liked to teach kingdom ideas using common things on earth. We are the trees Jesus is talking about. We know this because of what Paul says in Galatians 5. Paul says that the Holy Spirit wants to work inside of us, God’s trees, so that we grow good fruit. Our fruit should be tasty. People should feel better after they are around us.
Ugly words and actions are like bitter apples and thorns. They make the people around them feel yucky and hurt. God’s trees should produce love lemons, joy jackfruits and peace and patience peaches. Our branches should hang heavy with kindness kiwis, goodness and gentleness grapes, faithfulness figs and self-control strawberries. What are some ways your fruit could be sweet?
Prayer: Lord, please forgive me for all the times my words and actions are sharp like thorns or bitter like crabapples. Holy Spirit cause my tree to produce sweet, tasty fruit so that lost people near me will know about Jesus’ goodness and love.
Just for fun: Here’s some links to buy or make your own Fruit of the Spirit ornaments.