When I travel, I have a special necklace that I like to take with me. It’s a pendant that has seven colored stones that can be changed to go with whatever I might be wearing.
Recently I was staying with an African friend in Kenya. Each day the stone in my necklace was a different color, matching what I was wearing. She was very impressed when she realized that it was the same necklace that I was wearing every day. “I’d like to have a necklace like that” she commented one day.
Not long after that, I was wearing a multi-colored jacket that had a little black accent in it. I had chosen to put in a black stone to wear with it. My friend was puzzled, and asked, “Why did your necklace pick up the black since there are other colors that are more prominent?”
I was confused by her question. “Because I chose a black stone today,” I replied.
After a few more confusing comments between us, I realized that she thought the stone in the necklace changed colors on its own depending on what I was wearing—like glasses that you see advertised that change between regular glasses and sunglasses when you go in and out of the sunshine.
“ Oh! No, I have to take the pendant off the necklace, open it up, and change the stone,” I replied. And I demonstrated for her how it was done.
We both had a good laugh at the mistake, and then agreed that it would be great to have a necklace that would just change colors according to what I was wearing without any effort on my part. “A magic necklace,” I thought. I’d like that—a necklace that would match whatever I was wearing without any effort on my part.
“No effort on my part.” The thought raced through my mind. How often I’d like things in my life to change without having to put forth effort. But that’s not the way life works.
In fact, God more often than not, requires action on my part to bring about the change I want.
Take for example Naaman, the powerful King of Aram who had just defeated Israel in a battle back in the time of the Prophet Elisha (II Kings 5). He had contracted leprosy and, on the advice of his wife’s Jewish handmaid, sought healing from the God of Israel through Elisha. But instead of just magically healing him, Elisha sent a messager to him telling him to go wash in the Jordan River seven times, and he would be healed.
Naaman was offended and angered by this instruction, and refused to do what he thought was beneath his dignity. But then his servants convinced him to follow the prophet’s instructions, which he eventually did and was healed. God was requiring his participation in the process of obedience before He would heal him.
“Just like my necklace,” I thought. If I want the color changed, I have to open the locket and put in a different colored stone. I have to do the work. I could have wished that the color of the stone would just change on it’s own, but it doesn’t. Yet, God has created the stones and given them the colors so that I may match them to my clothes. I use what He created, but I’m involved in the changing process.
And so it is with change in our lives. God gives us the instructions for how to live, and the power to do it, but we have to put those instructions into action in order to get the results.
Think of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) as the colored stones of a necklace:
God is giving them to us, but we have to “put them on” – put them in our lockets and wear them, so to speak – to make them true of us. It takes effort on our part, but in the process, God manifests those aspects of His character in us.
In a way, when we’ve put those characteristics on, they all are combined into one stone – a stone in a “magic necklace” that reflects God’s character. As we exercise a “fruit” in our interactions with other people, that character trait shines forth from the necklace for all to see.
So, maybe there is such a thing as a “magic necklace” after all!