Today I hunt for wild grapes. The vines are everywhere, climbing fences and trees and boulders along the wild country roads. Many of the vines are bare. But some have clusters of tiny purple grapes, miniatures of their cultivated cousins. A couple of light frosts have made them as sweet as they’re going to get… which is not very sweet. They’re far too tart to eat plain. But they make excellent jelly. I fill several ice cream pails and head home.
First, I wash the little purple pearls and pull them off the stems. Next, I mush them with my fingers, working the flesh from the seed (yes, seed… they’re so little there’s only one seed per grape). My hands will be stained purple for days! Then I put my mushy grapes in some water and boil them until they’re juicy. Next, the mush goes through a strainer to separate skins and seeds from juice. Finally, I make the pure juice into a mildly sweet jelly.
It’s a messy, painstaking process, to be sure. Most people wouldn’t bother with it. I freely admit it’s a whole lot quicker, easier, and cheaper to buy grape jelly at the local Piggly Wiggly. For me, though, this is time, money and energy well-spent. I find satisfaction in transforming a bunch of sour grapes into a sweet-tasting treat.
Hallelujah, God has the patience to take on the messy, painstaking process of transforming the sour, wild fruit of my flesh into the sweet-tasting fruit of the Spirit. He gathers up all the wild grapes embittered by sin. He crushes them and purifies them with fire. He carefully culls out and discards all the garbage. He infuses any potential good that remains with His sweet, sweet Spirit…leaving me with an offering fit to bring my King.
I don’t much like being broken and crushed and put in the fire and sifted. But the end result makes the process worthwhile. I want Christ to be evident in my life, not my sin-contorted heart. The only way to be changed from unholy to holy is the initial acceptance of God’s great salvation followed by a lifetime of sanctification. So, I allow God to do what He must to replace the fruit of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit.
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:19-24)