Of the four seasons, I would say that autumn is my favorite. As a child growing up in the northeast, it meant the start of school, clear crisp weather, and trees that boasted the most spectacular colors. It also brought an abundance of apples: sweet juicy Cortlands, tangy McIntosh, tart Northern Spy, and crunchy sweet Red Delicious. Whether baked in a pie or cake, featured in a side dish, or picked and eaten fresh, the apple is indisputably linked with fall, and it is a fantastic fall treat.
As I’m thinking about apples this month, I am reminded of the idiom, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” My daughter, Kelley and her daughter, Libby, are great examples. When Kelley was little and able to speak fluently, it was clear that she believed that whatever she thought was correct, just was. One time a friend of mine complimented Kelley on her short set, to which she emphatically replied, “It’s not a short set; it’s an outfit!” In her mind there was no room for the possibility that someone could refer to what she was wearing as anything but an outfit. Recently on a video chat with me, Kelley mentioned that Libby was using the undies that I purchased for her. I commented, “What a big girl you are to use panties, Libby.” She immediately countered, “They’re not panties, they’re underwear, Nonnie.” See what I mean? While many things can influence our tendency and choices, in this particular case, Libby showed the inherited propensity to be decisive and unyielding, which her mom displayed as a youngster. Our little apple did not fall far from the mama tree.
As believers, we can display traits indicative of our connection to God the Father, manifested in the life of Jesus His Son and enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit. We do, however, bear more responsibility in order to be imitators of Christ than Libby does to be like her mom. There are two passages of Scripture that speak about exhibiting the virtues of God, and they both use the analogy of the cultivation of fruit to make the point.
In John 15, Jesus refers to Himself as the vine, and He calls those who are His own the branches. Verse 5 states, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Then verses 7-8 affirm, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” To remain in is to stay vitally connected to Jesus. To do so, it is imperative to immerse ourselves in the ways of God by learning His Word, communicating with Him in prayer, worshiping Him and interacting with other believers. These practices will allow us to become as close to Jesus as possible. Our fruit will be sweet and sacred because we are an extension of the true vine.
The other passage is found in Galatians 5. After discussing the legalism that was pervasive in Galatia, the apostle Paul admonished his readers to live by the Spirit so as not to give in to sinful desires such as sexual immorality, idolatry (anything that garners our attention and pulls us away from God), hatred, jealousy, and selfish ambition. He then discussed the characteristics of those who live by the Spirit of God. These virtues are called the fruit of the Spirit: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (verses 22-25). To live by the Spirit and keep in step with Him involves faith and obedience. Faith in Jesus brings the Holy Spirit into one’s life. Opening one’s heart to Him daily and obeying His principles keeps us growing in faith and allows us to be more like Him.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have others recognize our connection to the Lord by the behavior and characteristics they see in us? The other day I was telling my sister-in-law about Libby’s inclination to be literal, and the first thing she said was, “She’s just like Kelley.” Oh to be known as a child of the King by my actions and inclinations so that those around me will say, “This apple has not fallen far from the tree.”
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