Not the Title, but the Fruit

I live in a 19 year old apartment building.  It’s obviously not sound proofed.  I wonder if these exercise machines were freely available that people would own one for themselves at the point of building.

There is a lady who lives above me and is a fitness freak.  Oh, she also calls herself a pastor.  Apparently she had got her pastoral training in Canada.  Right from day one of me meeting her I decided pulling away from her is best as her attitude didn’t set well with me.  Later on I found out that there were a number of people in this building who didn’t talk to her.  I put it down to discernment and God’s wisdom to be shrewd as a snake and harmless as a dove.

Yes, I always hear much noise from above… especially the dragging of furniture day and night.. Yes, in the nights too.  There was also a pounding noise morning and evening for about 5 minutes each.  In addition to that was also another unsettling disturbance that I couldn’t quite decipher.  It would go on for 45 minutes every evening.  Some days the vibration was more vigorous than others.. There was no fixed time for this and some days it would start pretty late and then the intensity of my head and heart pounding and thus taking time to cool down afterwards will take longer too.  I guess when the outside noise interference was lesser it had a greater impact.  I assumed it was her exercise machine – perhaps a treadmill or something.

A neighbour dropped in one day at the time of a majorly vigorous routine and asked me what that was.  I told her I assume it’s her exercise machine and it’s a daily ‘torture’ for me.  My neighbour replied that if it had been her she would have complained by now and the ‘pastor’ upstairs is lucky that it’s me who is patient.  However, it had been getting more and more irritating as my ministry load doubled with my involvement in two new ministry projects.  Much preparation through prayer and writing is needed.

I could no longer ‘work around’ her schedule and escape to the balcony making that my coffee time.  There are times I get a writer’s block or times when I’m just exhausted.. The whole apartment was affected so other than the balcony I had no place of refuge in this apartment that I’m renting.

Yet in the meantime, my neighbour had told the upstairs owner about the disturbance she witnessed.  The owner had ‘felt bad’ and also admitted that in Canada the tenant below her would hit the ceiling with a broom whenever she exercised.  I had hoped that would make the adjustments in her life.  Nope! That didn’t happen that way.

I thought of Jesus telling us to go show the fault of someone who has wronged you.  Deciding that it isn’t fair by her for me to sit here and grumble without explaining how it was affecting me, I wrote a small note.  Well, I wrote a few notes over the following week and kept tearing it up as I wanted to make sure the notes were rational and not condemning.  The routine was getting later and later making me get more and more irritated especially given my workload.

I finally sat down prayerfully and quietly.  Yes, I wrote an A5 note explaining the disturbance and requesting her to kindly complete her routine by 630 pm at the latest – thinking that was a pretty fair request.  On my way out one morning, I left the note with the security.  When I arrived back home, in the same envelope, she had placed a reply of length 1.5 A4 pages A4 signing off stressing that she was a ‘pastor’ and ‘owner’.  Apparently she is known for her long replies and she had asked at the general meetings that she be called pastor.  No, I didn’t bother responding as it was the same personality resonating from day 1.

All I could tell her from her note that I was right about my first opinion of her, glad that I had stayed away and the note was enough to tell me about her walk with God.  Yes, today – not even a week later since the correspondence she went well beyond 6:30 pm.

It’s ok that I’m writing this note.. It’s not with vengeance.. I’m totally amused by  it all.  Besides Matthew 19 does tell us to show the fault to the one who wrongs us, take 2 or 3 witnesses next, then take it to the church and if the person still doesn’t admit to their wrong, to treat them like a pagan.  Well, I did have a witness speak to her.. and we don’t have a ‘church’ in common – I guess she is at least in her eyes a pastor, so to me now I can look to her as a ‘pagan’.  And I pray asking God for His divine intervention in this situation !

Many of us think that if we are action packed for God or in ministry let alone going through the motions of being a Christian (attending church without missing a single Sunday, going for prayer meetings and Bible studies and doing good through charity work), we think that we are SOMEBODY that God approves of.

Yet what does God require of us?  Loving God with our ALL and loving our neighbour as ourselves.  It is by our love for one another that we are known to be His disciples.

What are we exhibiting more in our lives?  Is it

  • adultery
  • fornication
  • uncleanness
  • lewdness
  • idolatry
  • sorcery (witchcraft)
  • hatred
  • contentions (discord)
  • jealousies
  • outbursts of wrath
  • selfish ambitions
  • dissensions
  • heresies
  • envy
  • murders
  • drunkenness
  • revelries (orgies)

Or is it..

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • longsuffering (forbearance, patience)
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

Now go back and prayerfully read the lists again and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any areas that are in need of surrender.  Envy, selfish ambition aren’t really considered much by believers but they are very much on the first list.. the list of the acts of the flesh, the list which God says that those who live like this will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God.

Yes, we aren’t perfect and we are a work in progress… The fruit of the Spirit isn’t a result of our works. NO WAY!  Rather, as we choose to abide in the vine of Jesus, the fruit is the outward evidence of the inward work of the Holy Spirit in us!

As the Fruit of the Spirit increasingly is exhibited in our lives, the acts of the flesh proportionally diminish.. It’s the heart’s situation that God is looking at.  Are we longing to be more Christ like?  It’s not our ministry or our titles that will get us to heaven but rather our intimacy with God.  And the intimacy will show..

Those who look to God are radiant – Psalm 34:5

The Spirit and the flesh are contradictory to one another.  Where is your focus?  Is it on the flesh and the ways of the flesh or is yielded to God and to be led by the Holy Spirit, to be blown away as He leads?  The lighter we are in Him, the easier it is to yield!

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