I was thinking about the fruit of the Spirit recently and engaged in a bit of reverse engineering, or reverse gardening—to coin a concept. In other words I took the fruit of the Spirit and sought to ask what are the corresponding weeds.
And bearing in mind what my brother in Christ, Andrew Kerr, said last week in his post on sin—in point 12:
“The faithful Gospel minister will be prayerful and careful to deal with ‘respectable sins’ instead of always hitting ‘home runs’”
I thought it would be beneficial to not just nail the weeds of the world, but the respectable Christian versions of those weeds too.
I’m reasonably ok at spotting weeds in the garden when it comes to the usual suspects, but there are a few that look pretty, and have been left to establish a foothold where they should have been rooted out. Likewise with Christian weeds—these respectable sins.
There’s another category: Have you ever been conned by plastic fruit sitting in a bowl? It looks the part, but isn’t the real thing. Christians can have artificial fruit too—it looks the part, but isn’t the work of the Spirit, and brings no joy. What does this artificial fruit look like?
So here’s my gardeners’ identification chart for the weeds of sin and the fruit of the Spirit:
|Fruit||Weeds||Christian Weeds||Artificial Fruit||The Fruit of the Spirit|
|Indifference to fellow Christians,
Indifference to the suffering & marginalised
Disgust at sinners
|Love with limits,
Love without cost,
Loving the lovely
|Love that mirrors God’s love to us|
Anger at God,
|Joy that lasts only as long as the church service
Joy in good circumstances
|Joy that flows from salvation’s truths and treasures, irrespective of circumstances.|
|Peace||Internal and external strife,
|Confidence in your abilities to cope with whatever comes||Peace because our relationship with God breeds trust in our Father’s care.|
|Patience||Impatience, Irritability||Impatient with God’s timetable
… with people who should know better
… with yourself‘Justified’ impatience
Patient when it benefits us, with people we want to impress
|Patience because of his patience to us. He remembers we are dust (Psalm 103).|
|Kindness||Tramples over others,
Expect to be served by others
|Self-pity||Kindness only in order to impress or receive.||Kindness that looks to give to others, because our Father displays kindness to us unendingly.|
Disobedience to God’s commands
|Hypocrisy – pretending we are better than we are.
Absence of positive goodness, ie. seeing it simply as not doing wrong.
|Displaying positive goodness only when it suits||Goodness because we have received great goodness at no cost|
|Faithfulness||Infidelity, unfaithfulness, dishonesty, disobedience||Half-heartedness,
|Committed when it suits
|Faithfulness because Jesus was faithful even when it hurt/cost|
|Meekness||Self-seeking, Pride||Failure to stand for what is right||False modesty
Being a doormat
|Meekness because we owe everything to Jesus humbling himself|
|Self-control||Lack of self-control,
|Frustration with inanimate objects! eg. Computer, car, anything that goes wrong
Infatuation with good things – food, tv,
Addiction to legal substances
|Partial self control
Offsetting self control in some areas against none in others
|Self-control because God is the only thing ultimately worth having|
It’s only a start; doubtless you can add many more. Do so. And let us take care of the soil of our souls, weeding and cultivating, so that the Spirit’s fruit can flourish.