Beneath the Surface
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law
You have heard the old saying, "A watched pot never boils." Few
of us would sit still long enough to watch the water come to a boil after we have just
turned on the heat. But we know that as the heat is applied that the pot will get hot. And
we know that as the pot gets hot, the water will eventually boil. Few of us show any
concern as to the whole process, we are just watching for the bubbles on the surface.
In Matthew 12:33, Jesus tells us that a tree is known by it's fruit. The fruit is evidence
of what is happening on the inside of the tree. Bad fruit indicates a problem in the tree.
But perhaps only some of the fruit is bad--perhaps only on one branch. What do you do? You
prune the tree so that the bad is removed and the good is nourished.
Have you ever been around someone who's pot is boiling over. Maybe it was someone close to
you who one day just blew up at you for no apparent reason. Maybe this someone seemed
hateful, snotty or rude, or made some sort of hurtful remark. Whatever it was--it was some
pretty rotten fruit.
Now maybe this person was a Christian brother or sister and what he/she did seemed
completely out of character. What do we do about it? Our natural reaction is often to
throw up the walls of defense. This person snaps at me for no reason so naturally I snap
back. Now who's fruit is bad? This other person may have something deep beneath his
behavior or maybe just a bad day, but what about me? I may have been having a great day,
but "There's no way I'll put up with someone treating me like that--how dare
It seems that just like with a pot of boiling water, we only respond to the bubbles. The
fact that there is a lot of heat beneath the bubbles does not seem to interest us. And
instead of doing something to reduce the heat--we often add fuel to the fire.
Good people sometimes treat you poorly. A response with spiritual fruits (love, joy,
peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance) rather than a
hasty retaliation, can go a long way to reducing the heat a person is feeling from what's
beneath the surface. We do not respond by overlooking their behavior, but by underlooking
it. That is to say, we recognize the behavior as the bubbles on the surface of a deeper
problem. We can then see more clearly to help them find the cause, and with the love of
God, help the person to deal with it.
If someone has treated you poorly, consider what's beneath his/her actions. Maybe it's
just a bad day or maybe worse, but it's not likely to be that he/she is treating you badly
just for kicks. Take yourself out of the picture and find a way to pray for the person,
love him/her, and minister to him/her to help them through the process.
Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the
mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own
eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see
clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye (Luke 6:42).
I started Day by Day in 1998 in response to what I believe was God's
leading. It is my primary devotional site. Reflections was added later,
simply as a site to place more of my work.