The Last Fruit

One of our sweet ladies at church supplied
me this past Sunday with some late-season
tomatoes. They were very, very good (they
didn’t last beyond Sunday afternoon, by the
way). As she handed them to me, she cleverly
quipped, “These are not first fruits. These are
last fruits.” I laughed with her, and merrily—
greedily, in fact—took from her the bag of
tomatoes. As much as I love fall, I hate that it
signals the end of tomato season. I could
literally eat them all day.
I mentioned in the sermon last Sunday
morning that God has his means of reminding
us “that the surpassing power belongs to God
and not to us” (2 Co. 4:7). I have been reminded
this week that God also has ways in which he
allows life circumstances to test our faith, our
commitment, and our witness. Case in point:
our electric range has been on the blink for
several weeks now. The cooktop works fine, but
the oven blitzed out on us. After a few visits
from a wholly-trusted friend and expert, along
with multiple conversations, we determined that
it needs a part that is no longer available …
anywhere. Thus, the “solution” was to send the
failed part off to someone who would rebuild it
(over a few weeks, of course), then to have that
rebuilt part reinstalled. For a hefty fee. All with
no guarantees. Needless to say, we had to bite
the bullet and replace the unit (ugh).
That leads me to the meat of the story, and
I’ll try to be brief. We purchased a new range
last Saturday. It arrived Monday. I did the
electrical (!). Ended up the range didn’t fit in the
space—by about 1/8 inch (BP goes up). Called
the aforementioned friend and expert. He came
over. We sweated and cut and heaved and
hoed. For hours. Finally got it in (BP subsides).
Called Stacy in to check out the result. She
approved. Then we opened the oven.

We found no racks, no manual, nothing that
was supposed to come with the unit was
provided (BP goes up). I called Lowes.
Customer service answered after about two
minutes, and told me I needed to return it (BP
goes up more). I politely declined, telling them
all that that would entail. I was put on hold. Ten
minutes later, they came back and hung up on
me (BP at the limit). At that moment, I
determined it was best that I go to the store
and have a face-to-face conversation.
Driving to Lowes that evening, I was not a
happy man. In my mind, I practiced again and
again all the things that I was going to say
when I got there, and very few of them were
nice. I then literally ranted and raved to myself
in the vehicle. A one-man audience at the
private rehearsal of his own imminent poor
behavior. Not long before arriving, however, I
calmed down enough (barely) to remember
who I am and Whose I am. In this particular
case, that was enough to get me through the
hour-long in-person encounter at the store.
None of this is to say that I am some kind of
awesome super-Christian because I held my
tongue. In fact, the entire time I was in the
store, although I was kind and even jovial, I
was still raging inside. Yet I am convinced that
the Spirit was at work because I acknowledged
his power and presence. How I handled the
situation externally and how I handled it
internally were worlds apart. But I was able to
get out of the way and let the Spirit lead,
something I do not always do. Praise God that
his Spirit lives in us. Praise God that, at least in
this case, I exhibited self-control.
Self-control is the last fruit. Of the nine that
Paul lists in Galatians 5, self-control is at the
end. Love comes first, of course, followed by
joy, peace, patience, and the rest. I am not
sure why Paul listed self-control last, but I have
a theory. It may be that he did that because he
was prone, like many of us are today, to think
of it only after thinking of all the other fruit. Or,
it could be that it rests in the final position
because he wanted that to be the particular
one we leave with—he wanted it to be on our
minds, since self-control clearly is an essential
fruit to bear if we ever expect the other fruit to
be effectively borne.

Share This