Galatians 5:22–23 (NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
It happened every summer. At the peak season of cultivation, irrigation, and extremely hot laboring, Peepaw would set the date for the annual Walt Farms Corn Supper. It could not be set in advance but waited on the precise ripening of a particular patch of sweet corn grown strictly for this occasion. No matter what we were doing on the farm, the entire farm team met at the crack of dawn on the turn row of this cornfield and we walked the middles, pulling the corn until all of our sacks were filled—coming to around a thousand ears. We took the corn back to the shop where we all shucked, silked, and sorted it into massive ice chests. Then we picked tomatoes from Peepaw’s “select” garden. Next came the trip to the Mad Butcher or the Piggly Wiggly to pick up the special order of a hundred chickens or so. The “old men” would show up around three, butcher the chickens and prepare the multi-faceted patented processes for frying them.
On the center of the farm was the old Walt family homestead, where Meemaw, Peepaw and the two Walt brothers once lived—a humble estate with an expansive yard. We would collect all the fifty-five-gallon barrels we could find, place them all across the yard and then lay two long, wide, flat boards side-by-side from barrel to barrel, forming makeshift standing tables for the feast. We placed half a dozen massive iron kettle like pots in the center of the yard each set atop turbo propane burners; half for frying the chickens and half for boiling the corn. I could go on with the details for pages, but you are getting the point. Around five, the parade of trucks would start flooding in as hundreds of farmers and merchants would converge for the great feast of the farm—the Walt Farms Corn Supper.
No tickets sold. No money exchanged. No blanket invitation. Anyone and everyone had been personally invited. Far from a civic event or a political rally (though governors and senators came) or some kind of fundraiser, this magnificent event was a celebration of friendship. As incredible as that butter basted corn was, the food turned out to be peripheral. The real feast turned out to be the fellowship.
The fruit on offer at today’s farmers’ market is pure unbridled goodness. I always felt like this was a bit of a throwaway word in the list of Galatians 5:22. It just seemed, well, so generic. Then I looked closer. The Greek term is ἀγαθωσύνη (pronounced ag-ath-o-soo’-na). It is the goodness that flows from deep self-giving. There is actually a better English word than goodness that captures the meaning of this ancient term. It’s generosity.
When I close my eyes, I can still see the silhouettes of all those glorious souls gathered around those tables, lingering well after sundown long after the food was enjoyed; a picture of pure goodness; of gracious giving and grateful receiving. Then I see Peepaw’s face beaming with the joyful radiance of the glory of God.
Wake up, sleeper! The generosity of God is extravagantly extraordinary. It is goodness to the highest power. And he longs to bear this fruit within and through us. You are generous. How do I know? Because you are filled with the generosity of Jesus. His Spirit is flowing through you. Step out in faith. The only regret you will ever have is that you didn’t do it sooner.
Father Farmer God, make of my life a farmers’ market. Make of the garden of my inmost being a place of the goodness-filled fruit bearing of love. I want to be so captured by the generosity of God that it becomes, in me, instinctive, impulsive, compulsive, and compelling—governed by your Spirit. I confess, my giving is so often quite calculated and measured. Holy Spirit, come and possess me with your unbridled extravagant generosity. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.
Do you sense the generosity of the Spirit of God welling up within you? Does it bring a sense of inner conflict with your own sense of scarcity? There is only one way to get beyond the struggle. I think you know what it is.
THE HYMN (We sing on the Recording)
Today we will sing the hymn, “When I survey the Wondrous Cross” on page #221 of our newly released Seedbed hymnal Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.
Giving Tuesday marks for Seedbed the beginning of a thirty-three-day festival of fund receiving (not to be confused with fund-raising). God gives through saints like you and we receive, and God gives through saints like us and you receive. Far from a worldly quid-pro-quo, this is how the fruit of the Spirit works ala agape love. To aspire to what we are aspiring for—which is nothing less than great awakening (of which the Wake-Up Call is only the tip of the iceberg) will require receiving $1,000,000 this year. I encourage you to explore the opportunity here.
For the Awakening,