“O monstrous! what reproachful words are these? These words are razors to my wounded heart” ~ Shakespeare
Fruity. I’m not exactly sure as to how it transformed from being a word denoting natural delight to a word of unsightly amusement but I do however know what it is like to be a receiver of their unkind colloquies.
It is possible that my lack of coordination, the way I carried my books to class, or my love for the creative and artistic made me stand out from what seemed to be a larger percentage of the boys in middle school; however, I believe it was gentleness, manners, and self control that garnered the name calling. “Hey fruity!” “What a fruitcake!” The name-calling didn’t happen much but when it did, the words stung and they stuck.
The fruit of the Spirit (the evidence of the Spirit’s work within His believers) looks quite different from the qualities our culture often relates to masculinity. I recently read My Brother’s Keeper written by Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen. In the book she talks about an experiment among college students. A list of random traits was given to the students and they were asked to label each trait as masculine, feminine, or neutral. The list included synonyms for the fruits of the Spirit. Most of them chose the fruits of the Spirit as being neutral; however, many of the young men labeled them as feminine traits.
I decided to conduct the same survey in the Christian high school class where I teach and found that almost fifty percent of my students did not choose the traits of patience, gentleness, or kindness as being a trait associated with masculinity. It used to be a compliment if a boy was called a gentleman. The results and reality are unfortunate because God told all of his believers (both male and female) to imitate the qualities of Christ. They are Christian and not specific to one gender. The fruits of the Spirit include:
- Love (affectionate and charitable)
- Joy (gladness and rejoicing)
- Peace (tranquility, soundness, exemption from rage)
- Longsuffering (patience, slowness in avenging wrongs)
- Kindness (a pleasant disposition and concern for others)
- Goodness (uprightness of heart and life)
- Faith (conviction of truth/belief, trust)
- Meekness (gentleness, mildness)
- Self-control (controlling one’s emotions, desires, and behavior)
I was excited when I recently saw that my twitter and blogging friend Joseph Stevenson created Fruit of the Spirit dog-tags and was encouraging young and old men alike to exemplify these Godly traits. (I just got mine in the mail!)
As Christian parents, teachers, mentors, and leaders, we need to teach our young men that we don’t answer to culture. We answer to God and he tells us how to live and love. When we find our strength from a relationship with Christ, the fruit of the Spirit are natural attributes we will all (male and female) bare. When we know this and are confident of this, the words may sting but the word “fruity” . . . maybe we should take it as a compliment!
Purchase a Fruit of the Spirit Dog-Tag here: http://www.rjpreach.com/store/