21st January 2017

The Orange Test

“A tree is identified by its fruit. A tree from a select variety produces good fruit; poor varieties don’t. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For a man’s heart determines his speech. A good man’s speech reveals the rich treasures within him. An evil hearted man is filled with venom, and his speech reveals it.”
Matthew 12:33-35 (TLB)

Here is a silly question. If you squeeze, or put pressure on an orange what comes out? The answer is simple, orange juice! So here is another silly question. Why does orange juice come out of an orange? Simple answer again, because that’s what’s inside! Two silly questions to make one serious point.

So let’s assume that this orange is not an orange, but it’s YOU! And someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, says something you don’t like, offends you. What comes out of you when you are under pressure? Is it love, peace and joy, or is it anger, hatred, pain, bitterness and fear?

It’s one of the great lessons of life. What comes out when life squeezes you is what’s inside you. When someone hurts or offends you, the real you comes out! It does not matter who does the squeezing—your parents, your brother or sister, your children, your boss, or the government. If someone says, or does, something that you don’t like, what comes out of you is what’s inside.

But here’s another question, this time a serious one. If you react and feel negatively under pressure, when you are being squeezed, why is that? Because what’s inside is up to you. Unlike an orange, we human beings have a choice about what’s inside us. Life and circumstances can all too easily fill us with negative emotions and we need an antidote, so that when we are under pressure, what comes out is love. That antidote is living a Christian life, letting God change us from the inside. That involves the sacrifice of some time on our part. Time spent reading and studying the Bible, time spent in prayer, time spent in attending weekly services at a church that teaches from the Bible, time spent with other Christians who share our values. Time to allow that change inside us to take place because it does not happen overnight. Time to see the difference in what comes out of us when we are put under pressure by people and by circumstances, by life.

The Bible tells us God is love and, in love, He wants a relationship with us. While Christians are subject to all the same negative pressures as everyone, when we are squeezed there should be a difference. Even under pressure we should be radiating that loving relationship we have with God. What comes out should be love, peace and joy, not hatred, anger, bitterness and pain.

But, as stated, it takes time to change what’s inside us. So if you are a Christian, or you know a Christian, who radiates the wrong things when they are under pressure, be patient with yourself or with them. Being a Christian is a work in progress needing time, not an instant makeover. In fact it’s quite a challenge to react in a Christian way when you are under pressure. Are you ready and willing to take up that challenge?

God knows you right now, just the way you are today and still loves you. When God looks at you today He sees not the person you are, but the person you have the potential to be. Why not ask God to squeeze out your anger, hatred, bitterness and pain, replacing those negative attitudes with His love, joy and peace?

Father, we too easily react negatively when under pressure, please give us the grace and strength to react in a loving way when life or people squeeze us.

Study by Keith Hartrick


About the Author:
Keith Hartrick is an Elder in Grace Communion Church – Leeds, and serves on the Church Council there.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Leeds
Garden Village Welfare Association
Community Centre
Pendas Way

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2PM

Local Congregational Contact:
Malcolm Arnold
Phone: 01484-312347
Email: malcolm701@googlemail.com

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