6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron's staff was among them. 7 Moses placed the staffs before the LORD in the Tent of the Testimony.
8 The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron's staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. 9 Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the LORD's presence to all the Israelites. They looked at them, and each man took his own staff.
10 The LORD said to Moses, "Put back Aaron's staff in front of the Testimony, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die." 11 Moses did just as the LORD commanded him." Numbers 17:1-11
Aaron's staff was one of three things that ended up being placed in the Ark of The Covenant. And you know, as I read verse ten there, it strikes me that the buds and blossoms this staff produced, probably did not wither. They probably stayed green and vibrant, as a perpetual reminder to everyone of God's intentions for the leaders of His people.
But what about that staff? What does it actually represent? We see that Aaron's staff was the only one of the twelve that sprouted- and not only did it sprout, but it also budded, blossomed, and bore ripe almonds- all stages of growth were represented on this staff. This is what God desires for His people- growth. Aaron was chosen because of the righteousness he was displaying in his life- and undoubtedly, what was in his heart. And I think this staff speaks such encouragement to us today, because not every area of our lives and heart is going to be perfect and full and bearing almonds right away.
Let's think of the fruit of the Spirit."But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22,23
The fruit of the Spirit is the evidence of God in our lives. I can look at myself and see exactly where the fruit is being tended, yet each one is in a different stage of growth. God is the vine, and we are the branches- and each branch is meant to bear fruit. Yet that fruit goes through a process of growth, and where I may have joy in spades- I may have a full grown almond of joy, I also know that patience is but a bud, and love is beginning to blossom, and gentleness may just be beginning to sprout.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
A few weeks ago, I may have been discouraged about the whole bearing fruit thing, because I'll tell you, as I know God has been working on me a lot during this season, I guess there was a part of me that just figured that one day I would wake up a completely different person. I figured that one day, I'd find those verses in the Bible or attend that service that would completely transform me and turn me into the person I am to become. The truth is, that doesn't happen very often. Mostly, everyone goes through a process- and we all have different fruit and different gifts in varying stages of growth. So while I may look across the way and see that person who has a full grown almond of faith, I can take encouragement in knowing that person did not start out with all that faith- it sprouted, budded, blossomed, and then formed fruit.
I think it's also worth mentioning that bearing fruit doesn't just happen. Just as a fruit tree needs nutrients in the form of rain and sunshine, I need nutrients in the form of scripture and prayer. I need to keep my heart and my mind out of trash and where they need to be. In the example of a fruit tree, when trauma occurs to the tree- say an animal nibbles at the bark a bit, or a hailstorm damages some blossoms- then extra care and extra nutrients need to be added. An extra boost of fertilizer may be added to promote the good growth to grow over the bad growth. So when I feel myself slipping, it's time to try harder to get into the word more, maybe read a few books written by Christian authors to help boost my soul, rather than strip it of the good.
So I will no longer be discouraged. I think the devil uses this to his full advantage, and I will not allow it. I think he shows us those people who have put in the time and are bearing much fruit, and he whispers to us that we'll never be like them, we'll never pray those prayers of the faithful the way that person does. That is all hogwash and false thoughts. God loves each and every one of us and wants us to bear His fruit to the fullest. And when our eyes, heart, mind and soul are on him, our staff will change. We will bear fruit in some areas, and we will bear sprouts, buds and blossoms in other areas, and He wouldn't have it any other way.