The Fruits of the Spirit

There is so much evil in the world today masquerading as good. Affluence is held up as the good life and the ultimate purpose of man’s existence. Hedonism and sheer pleasure are portrayed as true happiness and to be enjoyed at all times and at any cost. Vices are portrayed as virtues, like pride is good because it is assertiveness; greed is good because it creates wealth; selfishness is good because it shows one’s strong self-image; hatred and anger give way to wars and genocide carried out in the name of God.

I am most afraid that the good I believe I do is but a mask for the evil that is also in me. Behind my sweet words and the elegance of what I say may be lurking evil desires, bad intentions or malicious deeds I don’t want people to know. Is my goodness but a facade to cover my true evil self? And is my kindness but a thin veneer below which is all rot and corruption?

“By their fruits you will know them.” I must constantly check if the good the I do and the truth I proclaim and the beauty that I celebrate are the fruits of the Spirit. Can I show and give love even in the face of anger and rejection? Or do I love only those who love me? Do I share and bring joy into other people’s lives even when I myself can barely manage to smile because of my own burdens? Or do I destroy the joy in others to get them to join me in my misery? Do I bring peace to those who are disturbed and unsettled even when I myself am struggling to find my own serenity and tranquility? Or do I mask my agitation by being loud, boisterous  and obnoxious? Do I show patience to those who are slow in thought or in action wishing they’d hurry up a bit and quit wasting my time? Do my acts of kindness conceal a hidden agenda? Does my generosity expect something in return? Is my faithfulness only good for fair weather? Is my gentleness a subtle cry for my own self-gratification? Do I exercise self-control?

Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them.
Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,
and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.”
Matthew 7:15-20

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