It’s summer time but here in western Pa. we haven’t had a ‘hot’ summer yet. If I have my say, it wouldn’t get above 75 degrees. So I’m enjoying these temperatures this year, thank you. However, usually by this time, we’ve seen muggy, thick, humid days that just want to make you stick your head in your freezer and breath deep. It’s amazing how the heat of summer puts some people, me included, into a lethargic state, longing for the crisp air of autumn.
As I thought about this and our new Wednesday night study, How People Change, I realized there is a great metaphor between the summer heat and the spiritual heat of life. The folks at CCEF, writers of the study guide and book, use a counseling model, taken from scripture, represented by the HEAT-THORNS-CROSS-FRUIT diagram. You must see the diagram to appreciate the fullness of the model but in short the central idea is this.
The HEAT is stressors of life i.e. bad drivers, rain on golf day, cancer diagnosis, job promotion, selling or buying a house, anything that causes stress in our life. The THORNS are the reactions to those stressors, i.e. worry, anger, anxiety, murder, theft. This is how the natural man, when left to himself, will ultimately react. When pushed to the limit, we act in accordance with our nature. The CROSS, is the cross of Christ, which represents the heart transforming grace which God pours out on His children upon our salvation. The FRUIT is the reactions to life’s stressors after God has transformed a person’s heart, i.e. love, patience, kind words, benevolence.
One of the most striking truths about this biblical concept is that the HEAT is the same for all people. The stressors of life are no respecters of persons. Everyone faces trials and hurts of life. We each get the unwanted phone call from the Doctor’s office. All of our vehicles break down at the most inopportune time. Every parent has felt the sting of a child’s rebellion. We all pay taxes. The HEAT effects all of us alike. The questions is do we allow the heat to produce thorns or fruit.
My neighbor advised me the other day that our tomato plants were not doing well because we haven’t had any hot nights yet. They love the hot humid nights. Not so, for yours truly. The same hot nights that produce red ripe tomatoes also cause irritation in me. You see the heat is the same, the results are different.
So it is with our response to daily HEAT of life. Are the results of HEAT in your life THORNS or has the heart transforming grace of Christ enabled you to produce FRUIT? You’ll produce one or the other.
Our study continues on Wednesday nights. Won’t you join us or contact us for more information.