Fruits Of The Spirit

The Way of Christian Living, by John H. Timmerman (Eerdmans, 149 pp.; $7.95, paper); and The Spirituality of Gentleness, by Judith C. Lechman (Harper & Row, 184 pp.; $14.95, cloth).

The Spirit produces fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, and the others (Gal. 5:22–23). This study, by Calvin College professor John Timmerman, moves between understanding these biblical words and working them out in life.

Packaging is the curse of our age, says Timmerman. In contrast to vegetable vendor’s wagon, brimming with unpackaged freshness, we pick packaged spiritual fruit—sterile, finished, and promoted. His survey of God’s fruit stand is accessible to beginners and is equipped with discussion helps.

Timmerman’s chapter on gentleness begins with an extended illustration from C. S. Lewis: the medieval pattern of the brave, noble knight—strong enough to dare gentleness. Timmerman’s biblical models are David, Moses, and Christ. The last offers us the gift of imitating him through the courageous fruit of gentleness.

Lechman spends her entire book on gentleness, exploring 16 of its facets. Using the motif of the vine and branches, she moves from rooting (qualities such as openness, devotion) through grafting (surrender) and pruning (humility, healing) to bearing (respect, love).

The Spirituality of Gentleness is a book for concentrated exercise and growth. To scrutinize just one spiritual fruit so intensely might be daunting. But Lechman takes things a step at a time. If you come on this at the right time, reading and absorption can occur together.

Disciplines Of The Walk

Meditating on the Word, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ed. and trans. by David Mcl. Gracie (Cowley, 154 pp.; $6.95, ...

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