At the time of this writing, it’s the time of year when my house tends to be filled with the preparations that come with the advent of Christmas. In addition to the multitude of lights, sparkling ornaments, aromatic smells, and sounds of celebration that pervade my December life, fruit tends to be in abundance in and around my kitchen. Not counting the delicious and calorie-filled pies and desserts, our kitchen is filled with fruits that are to be turned into jams, a holiday traditional gift in our household. My wife, ever the talented cook and baker that she is, buys a large amount of various fruits and spends a day making several creative and delicious jams with them. Then, when it’s time to give gifts, I don my Santa hat and walk around my workplace giving out a jam of choice to all the people who mean something to me. It’s a reminder to them of how important and appreciated they are to me. The author of John 15.8 writes about how our actions are similar to an abundant crop: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Quite literally, my wife’s efforts are our appreciation and the fruits of other people’s labors; these fruits are the return on those investments that many have made in our lives. Several places in the Bible make similar comparisons, where the value of the labors of a Christian believer can be seen in the fruits that result. However, one such recent event ran up against this metaphor for me. Each year at Christmas, a distant relative sends us high end pears from a well-known gourmet. This year, when the pears arrived, the fruits must have sustained some harsh conditions en route, as when we opened the box, brown spots, bruises, and emerging mold were overtaking this once luscious crop. My relative’s intentions were very good, but under the wrong conditions, the efforts spoiled, which made me consider: is it possible to produce rotten fruit as the result of our Christian labors? Christians can have the best of intentions, can put forth their best efforts, can know their audience and appreciate them well, but somehow the fruits of those labors turn sour and rotten before they are received. For these pears, perhaps the storage was too warm, the ride was too bumpy, or the time and distance for delivery was too long and far. The point is, that somewhere along the line, the conditions surrounding these fruits caused them to decay. As we work towards maintaining a Christian life, we can have pure intentions with our actions, but various conditions can taint the outcome. Several times, we have all looked back at the results of our actions and wondered why they came out the way they did, as we thought we were working within His plan. Maybe we allow our human hearts to get in the way of His divine plan. Sometimes, our words betray us or our actions may become self-righteous and self-centered. Not being perfect beings, our fruit can spoil. But if we are human, how can we avoid this rot? Humility. Pride can destroy our actions, so instill humbleness. If we humble ourselves, the chances of decomposition significantly lessen. Pray and meditate, frequently checking in with God to make sure that you are elevating Him and not yourself. This week, humbly bring your actions before God and present them to Him for inspection. Much like my pears, if we can improve the conditions of our actions, our fruit will stay fresh longer. Amen.