Back to bananas.
I bought a bunch of bananas at the grocery store the other day. I try to buy them when they are just starting to turn yellow. We don’t eat them very quickly, so it’s best if we buy them early enough to let them ripen for a few days. So let’s see, I bought these on Monday evening. Today is Wednesday and they look pretty good. Mostly yellow with just a few hints of brown here and there. Alfred grabbed one this afternoon and peeled it. The whole bottom part of it was slimy, brown, and gross. He ate the good half and threw the rest in the trash. Later, I grabbed one. I peeled it (expecting it to be gross too) and it was perfect. Not a brown or soft spot on it.
As I ate my banana and actually took note of how perfectly ripe it actually was, it got me wondering how two bananas from the same bunch could look and feel the same on the outside but be so different on the inside. One was nasty and unpleasant, one was sweet and very enjoyable. And then I started to think about how people are the exact same way.
Some people look absolutely fine on the outside. They may have great hair and clothes, good manners, always have a smile on their face, and seem to present a great front, but when you take the time to really look inside, they are "white washed tombs full of dead men’s bones" (Matthew 23:27). They can be bitter, spiteful, mean, unforgiving, angry, whiny or have any other number of undesirable characteristics . It may be their circumstances that have made them this way. Bananas go bad quickly if they are stored in temperatures that are too warm or if they get bruised. People, too, can quickly become jaded if they are faced with fiery trials or if they hurt by other people. Sometimes people just get that way from their own choices and decisions. Regardless of how they got that way, once they have allowed themselves to become rotten on the inside, they become useless and undesirable to everyone around them.
Then there are the others. They can look and act exactly the same as person number one (or banana number one), but on the inside they are sweet, pleasant, and bring happiness to everyone around them. When you take the time to peel back their layers, you can’t help but notice that they are genuine and loving and kind. These are the people who you want to be around. These are the people who you know will always do whatever they can to help others around them. Their insides are clean and pure and not tainted by their surroundings or their bad experiences.
Two bananas from the same bunch. Two people from the same group, family, or church. They can experience the same trials and have been wronged in the same ways. One becomes useless and unpleasant. The other stays good and goes on to fulfill it’s purpose - to provide nourishment and joy to others.
So how do you know which bananas to choose if from the outside they look the same? To be honest, I have no idea. But I DO know how to choose what types of people to be around. I do know a way to discern between people who are rotten on the inside and who are not.
In Galatians 5:22-23, the Bible tells us that people who possess FRUITS (or results) of the Holy Spirit will display the following characteristics: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. People who do not, display FRUITS (or results) of living according to your flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.
So what fruit are people displaying in their lives? Do they seem to be people who seek peace? Do they try to resolve disputes with people rather than start them? Do they put the needs of others before their own? Are they happy? Are the nice? If so, they most likely are good bananas. OR do they attract or cause drama all of the time? Are they constantly entangled in arguments? Make their own lusts and desires their first priority? Are they liars? Drunks? Always bitter and jealous of others? If they are, it is safe for me to say that these people are rotten bananas. And me saying so isn’t being judgmental, it’s just being honest and being Biblical.
Unlike the poor little banana that Alfred ate today, we are fortunate enough to have a choice as to which bananas we choose to be in a bunch with. We can decide what kind of bananas we want to be. And whatever decision you make is going to greatly affect your happiness and usefulness to God and to other people. I would strongly encourage you to take the choice seriously.
Stay tuned for tomorrow when I decide to finally cut up the cantaloupe that is sitting on my counter.
"16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another." Galatians 5:16-24