|A 4-H cow and her keepers. You know, a while ago.|
But you'd be wrong.
These judges have a lot to say about cows. They know every aspect of these animals—how their coat is supposed to look, how their muscles should look, how they're supposed to stand. There's a real art to looking at these animals, apparently. I always try to figure out who's going to win, but it's clear that I'm not trained properly; I'm seldom right. So I mostly pick the pretty one.
Now, after last week's facepunch post, I figure I should make a spiritual parallel here.
Sometimes it's easy to look at someone and assume we know all about them. After one conversation, we can determine if someone is kind or not, sincere or not, weird or not. And we may be right, we may be wrong. The tough one is whether they're a good Christian or not. You can't tell that just by looking at someone.
But you can tell. You need to look for the fruit.
Matthew 7:10-15 says you can tell a Christian by the fruit that they bear. Not just who is a Christian, but who's a good Christian as opposed to a bad Christian. And by "bad" I don't mean simply "imperfect." None of us is perfect. But good as opposed to someone who is leading others astray.
If you need a refresher, the fruits of the spirit include, but are not limited to: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
Now, I'm not saying to go out and have a state fair-type Christian competition. Line people up like cattle and describe their spiritual fruit. Because there's a catch: You need to have a trained eye. And to know what these things look like, you have to have experienced them yourself.
The judges at the fair have a keen eye because they know what they're looking for. They've been around animals with good traits, so they know when good traits are lacking. So, as a Christian, you either have to have the good traits or be around people who have the good traits. This includes studying Jesus, who has all the good traits. And, hopefully, being around those with the good traits (including some quality time with Christ!) will rub off on you so you can eventually attain them.
Poor cows. If only they had that choice. They're kind of stuck with their DNA.
So watch your company. We all have fruits we need to improve, and we have others who can benefit from being around our fruit. Train your eye to spot good Christians, and then make sure you've got some of them in your life. Be aware of what fruit you're putting out there, too, in case there's someone trying to learn from you. Then when we get in front of the Judge, we can make a good showing; we'll know just what he was looking for.
I wonder if God gives out blue ribbons...