Saturday, June 7, 2008

Report Cards

At 10:30 on Thursday morning, suddenly the sidewalks were swarming with children.
What in the world???

They looked as all schoolchildren do, usually at 3 in the afternoon, but this wasn't then and many of them were carrying an uniquely shaped envelope... ah ha! It was the last day of school, early dismissal and report card distribution.

In their hands was an assessment of their performance over the last 9 months.

"What a gift. " I thought, although I don't know any children who would agree with me on that.

What if we, as adults, were given such a thing - quarterly reports and then an annual grade on how we're doing....

Let's see:
Becky Eppley
Grade: Grown -up
Plays well with others - E (exceeds standards)
Cares for materials - S (satisfactory)
Turns in assignments in a timely manner - N (needs improvement)
Completes all assigned work - NBI (needs BIG improvement)
Does not run with scissors - O (Occasionally-if hurrying to complete an assignment in a timely manner)

Unfortunately our assessments now come to us unpredicted: there is no warning that "There will be a quiz tomorrow"

No, now they're all pop quizzes like:

Cut off in traffic - Self-Control - F
Children asking the same thing for the 10,000th time (literally!!) -Patience - D+
Lack of recognition for a job well done - Peace - C-
A down turn in circumstances - Hope - D
Confrontation with co-worker, friend, child, spouse - Love - ????

I've just mastered not running with scissors and now I have to move on to
Love, Joy, Peace,
Patience, Kindness, Gentleness,
Goodness, Faith and Self-Control?

You recognized that list didn't you - the infamous "Fruit of the Spirit" but let me share my own "duh" moment with you concerning this list.

Somehow I never got it, what the whole Galatians 5 passage was saying. I seem to remember Sunday school lessons on how we should be more patient, loving, gentle etc. I mean, come on, as a teaching theme, you've got to love a list like this and the whole "fruit" thing too - You could make apples with the word "Love" on them, and a bunch of grapes that say "Joy"; but I digress...

Everything I need to be - loving, joyful, patient, good and gentle and having self-control, comes from the work of the Holy Spirit in my life- not my work, not my trying to be more patient, loving, happy...

Does that absolve us of responsibility?
How does the Holy Spirit produce such fruit in my life?
Take a look at John 15 - "I am the vine, you are the branches. .. He that remains in me bears much fruit... For without me you can do nothing."

God produces in me those things that please and honor him as I submit to his lordship over my life.
When I read His Word and He says, "Do this." I need to do that. When He says "Don't do this", I need to obey.

Do I always understand it? No way. Why I would voluntarily "walk another mile" when someone has already forced me to walk one? And the whole "Love and pray for your enemies..." and the "Forgive seventy times seven"?

All I understand about those concepts are that they are hard - like algebra - which I didn't understand either (sorry Mr. Roby), yet the study of it has influenced patterns of thinking and increased my ability to solve problems - even if they are not presented in a "If a + b = c - d what is the value of e?" format.

To pass the tests and the pop quizzes, of our lives we need to read the book, follow its instructions, and most importantly; talk with the author.

God made your heart and made you how you are.
God knows how to produce in you, all those things - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - that will make you, on that final day in his presence receive the report card that reads, "Well done my good and faithful servant. "(Matthew 25:21)


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