“Mind your P’s and Q’s,” my dad always said when any of us left the house. “If you misbehave, it gives our family a bad name. See that you are a credit to your mother and me.” It made no sense when I was a kid, but I’m re-reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and the lights have come on. If you’ve read the book (or seen any of the film versions), you know that Lydia’s scandalous behavior (running off and living with a man she wasn’t married to) had serious repercussions for her sisters. She gave the whole family a black eye. But the well bred behavior of both Elizabeth and Jane saved them from being ruined by it.
Matthew 7:16-17 puts it like this: “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” It hit me that this ‘behavior reflects the family thing’ is exactly what Jesus was talking about. Through Jesus our family is all of Christendom. We are God’s children. When we behave the way He told us to, our behavior reflects who God is. When we deliberately do the opposite of what God told us to do and our friends and family know that we say we are Christian, we sully God’s name. We distort the reputation of Christianity.
Nobody is going to be drawn to Christ when I snarl and snap because I’m having a bad day, I’m frustrated, or have a headache. That old song, They’ll know we are Christian’s by our love? It’s talking about the same thing. We are identified by our fruit just as surely as an apple tree is recognized.
Exactly what the quality of this fruit should be is spelled out for us by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22. The list includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Many times, I don’t measure up to this standard for good fruit. I think the fact that this list is labeled “fruit of the Spirit” means that it takes the assistance of the Holy Spirit for us bear that fruit in our words and actions. We are a reflection of God and a credit to our family name when we mind our P’s and Q’s.
Have a blessed day reflecting God to the world with the help of the Holy Spirit.