There are three rules for fishing! Fishing rule #1: The least experienced fisherman always catches the biggest fish. Fishing rule #2: The more your line is tangled, the better is the fishing around you. Fishing rule #3: Fishing will do a lot for a man, but it won’t make him truthful.
Charles Harvey tells the following story in the Reader’s Digest: I was driving to a job interview and running 15 minutes late when I saw a middle-aged woman stranded with a flat tire. My conscience made me stop. I changed her tire and headed to the interview, thinking I could just forget about getting the job now. But I filled out the job application, nevertheless, and went to the personnel director’s office. Did I get the job? Sure thing. The personnel director hired me on the spot. She was the woman whose tire I had just changed.
Paul is very practical in his approach to our spiritual lives. He writes for us to live by the Spirit, and he says you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. Paul invites us to be fruit pickers. What is a fruit picker? To be able to look at the lives of another person and know what type of life they are living.
Mark 11:12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” The tree died!
Matt 7:16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
The lives that we live produce certain fruits. You know that someone is sad because they cry or are withdrawn. You know that someone is happy because they laugh or have a smile. Things are evident in our lives because of what we are. Prov 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…. It is from the abundance of what is within that becomes visible on the outside.
Paul says, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality,
impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
These become the byproduct of what is in the heart. When we are not a Christian our standards are different. We don’t have the Holy Spirit saying, “Don’t do that.” However, having Christ in our lives also produces a by-product. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Matt 12:34 For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
On my trip to England I learned how they know whether the Queen is in Buckingham Palace or away. If she is in the Palace they fly her flag. When she is away, they take the flag down. Driving by the Palace all one has to do is look at the top of the flag pole.
Onesimus was a slave that ran away from his master Philemon. Philemon was a leader in the Colossian Church. A wealthy man known for his warmhearted and hospitable nature. Paul had lead Philemon to Christ. As a result, Paul knew Philemon well enough to have seen the fruit in Philemon’s life. That is why Paul has the courage to say to Onesimus, “Go home.” “I am sending him – who is my very heart – back to you.”
Legend has it that a missionary, lost at sea, was by chance washed up out of the sea on the edge of a remote native village. Half-dead from starvation, exposure and sea water, he was found by the people of the village and was nursed back to full health. Subsequently, he lived among these people for twenty years. During the whole of that time he confessed no faith. He uttered no songs. He preached no sermons. He read nor recited no Scripture. He made no personal faith claim. But rather: when people were sick, he attended them, sitting long into the night. When people were hungry, he — without exception — gave them food. When people were lonely, he was a source of company. He taught the ignorant. He was a source of enlightenment to those who were more knowledgeable. He always took the side of those who had been wronged. There was not a single human condition with which he did not identify. After twenty years had passed, missionaries came from the sea to the village and began talking to the people about a man called Jesus, and after hearing of Jesus, the natives insisted that this man, Jesus, had lived among them for the past 20 years. “Come, we will introduce you to the man about whom you have been speaking.” There, in his hut, they found the long-lost fellow missionary whom they had long thought dead.