But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,[a] 23 gentleness, self-control.
Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Footnotes: a: Galatians 5:22 Or faithfulness Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.
SARCASM IS NOT A SPIRITUAL GIFT
I was looking at the most accepted list of what is considered Spiritual Gifts. Depending on whether you are a Baptist or a Charismatic, your list will vary. (That is a whole other blog in itself!).
1 Corinthians 12:
administration, apostle, discernment, faith, healings, helps, knowledge,
miracles, prophecy, teaching, tongues, tongues interpretation, wisdom
I am dismayed to find that many of what I consider my most endearing charms are not listed.
Take Sarcasm for example.
My first awareness of sarcasm was when I was about 4 or 5. We lived in Shreveport, Louisiana. Louisiana in the summer is not a treat. It was the early 1960’s, our Chevrolet Biscayne didn’t have air conditioning (yet, Dad later added it, but that, too is another blog, under the heading of, “How On Earth Did I Survive My Childhood?”).
Mom was careful to not use expletives around us kids, but she had a whole raft of colorful metaphors that covered her cussing. Dad taught us many of them, and Mom used them liberally. The family favorite was “Toot Blossom”.
Mom had taken me with her to the grocery store.
We left the Piggly-Wiggly store, and were on our way home. Mom was already angry because for the exorbitant price of $55.00, we only got 20 bags of groceries.
On top of that, the traffic in Shreveport, Louisiana was bad. Mom was trying to merge into I-20 traffic.
In the South, you take the on-ramp, get up to Highway speed, and merge with oncoming traffic. You let on-coming traffic know your intentions with the blinker. An oncoming driver dove into our lane just as we were merging. Mom had to swerve to the shoulder to keep from getting hit. She slammed on the brakes and said, “My stars and garters, that idiot nearly hit us!”, then she shouted at the offender, “TOOT-BLOSSOM!!!!”.
That is not the sarcasm part, although it did set the stage for what happened next.
We were sitting on the shoulder of the road, re-gathering our wits. The windows were down, and because we were not moving, we began to bake like potatoes at a Baptist Luncheon. The dirt from the road hadn’t even settled around our car when I told Mom in a very demanding voice, “I’m thirsty!”.
I had fantasies of getting a cold bottle of coke. (In the south, every carbonated beverage is called “coke”. It is only when you make your purchase that you get into the discriminatory categories of which one you mean.)
Mom slowly turned around to glare at me as I stood in the back seat of the Biscayne (Life was simpler back then. No seat belts. No one cared if you bounced all over the car as your parents careened from post to gate in their land yachts. If you lived long enough to get your license after all that bouncing, everyone figured you could be trusted to drive. After all, you already understood the physics of inertia and speed.)
Mom glared at me after I pronounced the depths of my thirst. She asked me, “What do you want me to do, spit in your mouth? Because that’s as close as you’re going to get to anything to drink before we get home!” She slammed the car in gear and sped off, daring any other careening toot-blossoms out there to try to ram her. She gave me a lot of visual imagery to think about as I bounced all over the car and quelled my disappointment. I decided as I ricochet off the rear window of the Biscayne, that guided sarcasm is a powerful weapon in the right hands.
WHAT FRUITS MAY BEAR
My other endearing gifts are a critical spirit and anger. I am a glass half empty kind of guy, and am willing to fight over it. I managed to perfect these gifts, as I tend to think I am an overachiever when it comes to some things.
The down side to all these amazing attributes is, you really do reap what you sow.
I fought a lot when I was in High School. My toot-blossom got stomped too many times, so I studied the Martial Arts. It helped me win fights, but did nothing to reduce the number of them. I took more beatings than I handed out.
I used to think all that fighting was because I was only one of about 7 or 8 “hippies” in Brownwood, Texas. Brownwood is a small cattle town in central Texas. I tell people Brownwood is where men are men, women are few and sheep are nervous. (See, Sarcasm!)
I drove a multi colored Volkswagen, had long hair, and didn’t play football or do rodeo. In Brownwood, if you are a male, and you do not do these things, then you are considered gay. I stacked the deck against myself, too, because I was Drum Major of the band for about 4 years, and held office in the Drama Club. I performed in musicals, took piano lessons and wrote horrible poetry. So, I wasn’t doing myself any favors at all.
I also used to think the fights were because, while all the Football players were busy calling me a fag, I was messing around with their girlfriends. When I got caught in the act with someone’s girlfriend, the red neck that caught me would shout at me, “Hey, Faggot, what the hell do you think you are doing!?!?!?”. I was dismayed because, traditionally, gay males do not engage in flagrant fornication with females. I mean, if you can’t figure out what you’re looking at, then you need your daddy to discuss the birds and bees with you.
I added insult to injury by explaining my thinking with him.
After he suggested a bout of intercourse, (he actually said something that starts with an F, and ends with a U) I replied, “No thanks, I prefer females!” Which, in my mind, if a red neck is offering to have intercourse with you, it may explain the whole girlfriend issue.
You can use martial arts with your pants around your ankles, but it isn’t easy.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS FRUIT
It has taken me 57 years to discover that my ways are not God’s ways, my thoughts are not God’s thoughts, and if I am ever going to learn to be like Jesus, I need to spend more time learning the scriptures, praying, and getting out of my way, so the Lord can get IN my way. I have especially learned that there is nothing I can do for myself that will make me be like Him. I actually have to die to myself in order that Christ will manifest in me.
Die to self. What a concept. It is especially a risky proposition considering that I suffer from depression. I haven’t always been depressed. Depression has manifest itself more and more over these last 24 years. I have actually considered suicide as an option.
As bad as I think things are, though, I still belong to God through Jesus Christ. I figured I will put off suicide so I can see why God is allowing me to go through this trial.
God has steadfastly said, “There is a reason for it.”
THIS IS WHY I AM WRITING THIS SERIES
God is using this time to teach me how He sees me. If you are going through this, I hope you read this.
I intend to share this with you because He sees you the same way.
I have come very close to making a decision that cannot be unmade. I am not there, yet, but I am standing on that precipice, and the wind of decision is blowing me hard towards that irretrievable abyss.
I am writing about this until I can tell you what it takes to get from here to where the fruit of the Spirit shines through both of us.
I am going to be open, honest, truthful, and frank, in hopes that I can urge you to do the same.
BEFORE YOU DECIDE
Yes, a Child of God can suffer from severe depression, in spite of what all the well-intentioned “Christians” tell you. Augustine, Martin Luther, the Apostle Paul and others suffered severe depression. Many great Christian leaders did. And God used them, and they knew joy.
Jesus was tempted in all ways, like us. Never lose sight of this.
Before you decide to end yourself, let’s sit a moment and think about other possibilities.
Let’s find out how we can get out of our own heads and into the life of Christ together.
Shall we explore?
Let’s be about it.
I love you in the name of Jesus Christ, who is our hope and salvation.
David G. Perkins
PS – I strongly recommend two books:
“How to Stop the Pain”, by Dr, Jim Richards
“You Cannot Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought”, by Peter McWilliams