(NOTE: This series of blogs covers the twelve days of Christmas – Dec. 25th through Jan. 5th – and is based on the Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas.)
I have a confession to make: I can’t dance. A three-legged bull in a china shop has more rhythm than I do. It’s not my fault that I don’t know how to dance. I grew up in a very conservative religious tradition where dancing was a sin. There was an old saying in my religious tradition that the older generation was against sex out of fear it led to dancing.
I wish I knew how to dance. I don’t hold to that legalistic side of my tradition. I have learned to appreciate the art and athleticism involved in dancing, and I absolutely love dance as a form of worship. Worship dance is graceful, beautiful, and inspirational. One of the best worship dances I have experienced was performed by a group of young girls, in a Pentecostal church, in a poor neighborhood in Tegucigalpa, Honduras (pictured above & below).
“On the ninth day of Christmas my True Love game to me, nine Ladies Dancing…”
The grace and beauty of dance, given on the ninth day of Christmas, symbolizes the nine characteristics of a maturing Christian given by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23. These nine characteristics are called the “Fruit of the Spirit.” Notice that each characteristic is not an individual fruit, but together all nine make up one fruit, like a cluster of grapes.
Here is what the Apostle Paul wrote:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Here are two things to ponder on as you live out this ninth day of Christmas: First, these nine characteristics are a result of the Holy Spirit working in your life. As you grow in your faith, and allow the Holy Spirit to transform you into the image of Jesus, you should become more loving, more peaceful, more patient, more kind, more good, more faithful, more gentle, and more self-controlled.
Second, you can’t make a list of rules and regulations to make you “more” like Jesus. The Fruit of the Spirit is a result of a deeper, relationship with Jesus. Remember, these nine characteristics are not individual fruits, but one cluster of fruit. Keep that picture in mind as you read these words from Jesus…
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:1-8)