Thursday, January 10, 2008

JUICY-FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT - Part 1 - January 5, 2008

“Gotta have sweet, gotta have Juicy Fruit. You want, you need, you gotta have more sweet.” Yum! Just typing that phrase makes my mouth water! I’ve not enjoyed a stick of Juicy Fruit for years, having switched to the sugarless varieties years back. But my mind obviously remembers the experience and waters at the mere thought of it. My brain is probably tapping into a cluster of associations from childhood: walking to the corner store with a friend and buying Juicy Fruit, Sputnik gum, and licorice sticks; blowing bubbles that burst all over my face; laughing and cutting up… Yes, gum, and the activities that go along with it, is a flavorful experience.

Juicy Fruit—the number one fruit gum brand in the U.S. and the gum of choice of kids—has been around for over a century. Besides being a tasty treat, according to Wrigley, chewing gum increases your focus, concentration, and alertness, soothes your nerves under stress, fights and reduce cavities, strengthens teeth, reduces and neutralizes harmful plaque acids, aids in remineralization of enamel and in washing away food particles.

“Chewing gum before an afternoon snack helps reduce hunger, diminishes cravings for sweets, and can decrease snack intake by 36 calories.” This may not sound like much, dear dieters, but it adds up to 13,140 calories avoided in a year’s time—just from chewing a stick of gum before your snack! And parents, your children can potentially reduce their cavities by nearly 40 percent by chewing [sugarfree] gum after meals!

Gum and grace—is there a connection? For the next nine weeks, I will be writing about the “Juicy-Fruit of the Spirit” from Galatians 5:22-23. I do hope that I give you some good thoughts to chew on (“Moan!!!” “Hey, I heard that, readers!”).

According to Annie, a Wrigley representative, there are four fruit flavors in Juicy Fruit: lemon, orange, pineapple, and banana. There may be other flavors as well, and the flavors may be natural or artificial. In the Juicy Fruit of the Spirit, there are nine flavors—all natural expressions of God’s Spirit: love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The main theme of Galatians 5 is freedom:

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you… It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom… My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day… What happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard…” (Galatians 5:1-22 The Message)

The gifts that the Spirit brings into our lives—the fruit in our spiritual orchard—are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If we truly wish to be juicy-fruitful, Paul encourages us to, “make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” (Galatians 5:22-26)

In the Juicy-Fruit of God’s garden, no one flavor is better than another—and the fruity taste is expressed in fresh ways through each and every one of us.

No comments: