A little while back, a news story broke about a home for adults with learning difficulties. An undercover reporter had secretly filmed appalling treatment of the residents by some of the staff. How had that happened? Why had no whistle-blower come forward from the regular staff to report their colleagues for their unacceptable behaviour? I think it boils down to ethos. It seems to me that in a place of work, one or two people can set the standard; and the others, without much thought, follow the pattern. Soon, the unacceptable becomes the norm.
On the other side of the coin, there is a delightful children’s story about a smile. The little girl makes a point of smiling, which makes others happy, so the smile is passed on, and eventually comes back to her. What goes around, comes around. You reap what you sow.
Talking about reaping, brings me back to God’s very first commandment, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Of course, the obvious fruitfulness is about having babies, or tomato seeds for more tomato plants and so on, which brings me to today’s passage, Genesis 20 v 18 – 18. Abraham’s lack of trust in God in letting Abimelech think Sarah was just his sister, caused barrenness in Abimelech and all his women-folk. He had to pray some strong prayer to break through that, and restore their fertility.
We sometimes talk about a ministry being fruitful, and it’s a sobering thought, that my wrongdoing might hinder other people’s creativity and fruitfulness. I can certainly think of times when other Christians have got in the way of things I felt were right to do, and hindered my fruitfulness.
But fruitfulness is not just about procreation, or getting jobs done. I’m thinking about the fruit of the Holy Spirit. I believe we could change the world if we were truly fruitful in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Not only would we multiply (who wouldn’t want to be in a church were all that was going on, full-on?) but also, we would be fully effective in bringing a better ethos into our workplaces, and wherever we came into contact with others. More smile, less bile.
Yes, we need to be fruitful. And if we are hindering others, or being hindered then we need prayer for healing. We have the Holy Spirit. He produces fruit in us. Let’s go forth and be fruitful. God knows our world needs it!