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Soles and souls

Over the last two years of competitive running, I have gone through a number of pair of running shoes. Every time I visit the running store to purchase a new pair of shoes, I bring my most recent pair with me. Why? Simply because my shoes reveal quite a bit as I prepare to buy new running shoes.

An examination of the soles of my shoes shows how I run as a runner. How does my foot hit the running surface? Do my ankles tend to roll any direction as I run? Do I push off the ground with my entire foot or just the ball of my foot?

Believe it or not all of these things can be answered by examining the soles of my running shoes. Some things the soles reveal are good, while others show areas of poor running form. However, honest assessment has to be given because missing something could result in injury during runs.

While my shoes tell me about my physical condition, my fruit tells me far more about my spiritual condition.

We are all producers of fruit. Though the term sounds odd, it is biblical.

Jesus told His disciples, “For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart” (Luke 6:43-45).

When I evaluate my fruit, with the same scrutiny I use while examining my shoes, what do I see? Is it the good fruit Jesus speaks of or is it rotten fruit?

Rotten fruit is pretty bad. Though it looks and smells the same as good fruit, when one bites into rotten fruit, a sour and unpleasant taste fills one’s mouth. Instantly it is recognized as bad because one has gone past the surface to the heart of the fruit.

As Jesus gives this word picture to His disciples, He says the fruit is a reflection of what is taking place in our hearts. What is produced is the result of what is happening internally. In Galatians, Paul distinguishes between good and bad fruit. He wrote to the Church at Galatia, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:19-23).

Paul shows the difference between the two. The bad fruit comes from the flesh – our sinful nature. However, the good fruit is from the Spirit of God. We cannot produce good fruit on our own. Good fruit is only produced by the Holy Spirit Who does the transformation in our hearts.

As I think about my actions – how I treat others, the things I say, my attitudes – and even my thoughts, I have to ask myself, “Are these things reflecting good or bad fruit?” How is the Lord transforming my heart?

I’m glad for the lessons the soles of my running shoes have taught me.

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