Photo by hotblack on Morgue File
Khalil Gibran once said that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. What would your seven words be?
It is an interesting thought. However, I am not sure that the number of words is the key to understanding one another. It seems we often have little trouble understanding one another, it is just we choose to act as if we do not. I may in fact understand you, but because I disagree with you (either your opinion or your style or personality) I choose to ignore you or to act as though I am unsure of what you have said.
We tend to belittle one another in this way, because we are so small in our own eyes. It is our deepest insecurities and self-doubt coming to the surface and sneering at another person.
However, if I had to choose seven words, I think mine would come from the apostle Paul. In his letter to Ephesus he writes concerning the fruit of the Spirit in chapter five. He lists nine such fruit, so I will list seven words and then two more!
The nine words would then be: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, If we, as believers, truly lived out this wisdom, how much better would our lives be? How much better would the lives of those who encounter and interact with us be?
Of course, live it out we must. This list is not a goal that Paul is placing before us; rather, it is a reality he is arguing will be evident in each and every Christ follower. It is a reality that will be borne out by the working of the Holy Spirit. This is not a choice. This is not a decision to be made by me or you. It is to be a definition of our present reality. It is to mark us as truly disciples of the Risen Lord.
Of course, our flesh kicks up and battles hard against this fruit. (Notice it is fruit and not fruits.) But, this is to be expected. For the mature disciple this is to be a given, it is to be understood. The flesh is an unruly thing. It is irreverent and obnoxious. It is bullish and impertinent. It is base and natural and disrespectful. Sounds rather human to some degree doesn’t it!
Yet, we are to have Christ reigning in our hearts and lives. We are to be led and filled by the Spirit. We are to show forth the fruit of the Spirit in our words and actions. We are to be fully consecrated to God, allowing him to use us to reach and bless others.
If we take on the meekness of Christ in love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, then we will be instruments of his grace and glory. The fruit of the Spirit is rather unnatural isn’t it? And that is the precisely the point. It is unnatural, because it is of the Spirit. But, it is to be practical, having its outworking in the ebb and flow of daily, human life. If the fruit of the Spirit is not attainable there, then it is unattainable anywhere.
Just as Christ dirtied his hands in the stuff of humanity; so we, his followers, his learners are to be follow his example and be ministers of his grace. We are to show love to the outcast and forgotten and the unlovable. We are to bring peace to those at war (with God, themselves or others). We are to exemplify patience in such times when it would be easier to lose our cool. We are to be kind to those who irk us and annoy us. We are to show goodness to the bad and ugly of the world. We are to be faithful to the unfaithful. We are to be gentle to the rough and rowdy. And we are to practice self-control in the hottest of moments.
Why? For our glory? No, but to demonstrate the inner faith, the new life we have been given by the grace and love of God. We are to do so to show forth the transforming and redeeming power of the gospel of Christ. We are to do so to be witnesses to the working of the Spirit within us. In short, we are to do so to bring glory and acclaim to the Trinitarian God we worship, adore and love.
These would be my nine words.