"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
I stood at the counter waiting for my hamburger and tater tots to be cooked. It took a few minutes because they're made fresh. As a result they are delicious as can be. I watched as the chef and his assistant took orders, gathered the ingredients, and prepared the plates for each customer. Suddenly, like a couple of dusty tornatos, two older ladies approached the counter. (If they knew I was writing this they'd kill me.)
Abruptly approaching the counter the first lady blurted, "I had your Phillie sandwich yesterday and it was awful. It was the worst thing I've ever eaten!" The chef stood stunned for a moment then quickly gathered his wits and told her she could contact the manger down the hall. His restrain was remarkable.
Seemingly content to have unloaded her grievance, the woman commenced ordering a steak sandwich, but made it very clear it needed to be rare. Amazingly enough, she and the chef picked out a steak that fit the bill and he commenced preparing her sandwich. He put the steak on the grill to heat it up, to which she brashly scolded him because she wanted it to remain as rare as possible. Her mouth no sooner cooled from the first reprimand when she scolded him again for cutting it into slices in order to put on a hoggie bun, as per normal preparation. "I want it whole on a regular hamburger bun! Not sliced on a hoggie" she spit across the counter.
With the patience of Job the chef prepared her and her friend's order, as well as mine and a host of others waiting for lunch that day. My hamburger and tots were delicious, but my heart was heavy. I felt for the poor chef and his assistant because no matter how hard they try there will be people who will never be pleased and are happy to tell them about it. My heart was also burdened for those two ladies. The Lord used their example as a sober reminder of the importance of making a conscious effort to nurture His fruit of the spirit in my heart lest I slowly but surely drop rotten fruit wherever I go. Foul and distasteful fruit such as bitterness, anger, unkindness, impatience, selfishness, and rudeness. What a frightful thought.
I made sure to thank the cook's assistant for my food and give him a big smile. I wanted to somehow compensate for the ladies' rude behavior, but most likely it didn't. I can't reverse what they did. The only thing I can do is make a point to drop fragrant fruit wherever I go and pray for those bearing a rotten crop. After all, they are the most miserable and in need of help.
How is your produce basket? Is it appealing and attractive to those around you or does an accidental bad fruit fall from your tree every now and then? We are all sour once in a while, but making a conscious effort to plant God's word in our hearts and live it out every day of our lives is a sure way to nurture healthy growth. Like a farmer weeding his garden, we must search out any rotten fruit, remove it, and replace it with things that are good and godly.
"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it." 1 Peter 3:8-11