Self-control may be the most difficult of the fruits to grow…if you are trying to do it alone. You do your part by praying, staying in the Word, and walking intimately with God day in and day out. In these times with God, we need to confess our sins and surrender our wills. As we surrender daily to God’s will and ways, He will produce fruit in our lives.
Where do you struggle with self-control? Have you tried to do battle with this issue by doing your best? How has that worked out? What would it really look like to live in daily dependence on God for self-control?
Did you know that there are over 150 verses in the Bible that deal with the issues of pride and humility? I know that if God says something in His Word once, He means it. But, if He brings up a topic 150 times, then He not only means it, He knew that we would have a real problem with it! Listen to Him…He desires a clean heart where pride is confessed and gentleness is ready to pour forth.
The eighth fruit of the Spirit in the New Living Translation is the word, gentleness. Let’s start off this week with the true meaning of “gentleness.” It means “mildness”, “meekness” and by implication “humility” (Strong’s Concordance). Now, that we know the real definition we can begin to discuss a topic that is hard for most of us. So, read on to grow our eighth piece of fruit, gentleness.
I hope your faith walk goes well today. In many ways, it is a daily journey to lay our concerns before God each day and step out in faith. I trust that God will increase your faith day by day and that you will grow to love Him more and more as you recognize His incredible faithfulness to you! Check out today's post on faithfulness to grow your faith!
If you google quotes about faith, you would find over 70,600,000 (yes, over seventy million) websites listed. One of my favorites says “Faith is seeing light with your heart when all your eyes see is darkness.” So true! Another favorite certainly speaks to this modern day and culture… “Faith is like Wi-Fi, it’s invisible, but it has the power to connect you to what you need.” I love that! Clearly Jesus is what I need. He is what the world needs and only by faith can we connect to Him. Look with me now as we discuss the seventh piece of fruit in our fruit bowl, faith.
As we look at the fruit of goodness this week, I think the most important thing to remember is that kindness is the inward disposition and goodness is the habitual actions in which the disposition shows itself. Both are fruits of the Holy Spirit, and God calls us to have both. Goodness is doing. Goodness is serving others. Goodness can be hard. It is only made possible because of Jesus in us.
“Good” is a term used loosely in our culture. Food is good. Some people are good. Times are good. There are a lot of things that are good. One of the fruits of the Spirit is goodness, but it’s definition is different than how our culture defines it. This week we will define the sixth piece of fruit in our bowl and drill down to what it means and how it is lived out.
Our best Biblical example of kindness is Jesus Christ. He modeled kindness throughout His life, specifically in His three years of earthly ministry. We are called to be kind and not just do random acts of kindness. It is supposed to be a part of our makeup. It is supposed to be an integral part of who we are.
It is hardest for me to model kindness with people who continually make the same mistakes over and over, especially if they have asked for my advice and then blatantly done something else. I should love, listen and encourage. Often times I tune them out, show little to no love, and become a discourager. My heart grows hard, and I am so far away from being the person that God expects me to be. Read on to learn more about how to cultivate kindness in your life.
Various commentators define patience in this verse in Galatians as “patience sustained under injuries or provocation” and “patience in the face of wrongs or ill-treatment.” If you have professed belief in Christ and accepted Him as Savior, then you have the Holy Spirit in you. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is patience. So, you already have patience in you. This fruit may merely need to be ripened or unburied.
Over the years, I have heard many comments about patience… “He has the patience of Job”…“Don’t pray for God to teach you patience–you won’t like what he’ll put you through to learn it” and several others. Here is the thing...if you have professed belief in Christ and accepted Him as your Savior, then you have the Holy Spirit in you. So, you already have patience in you. This fruit may merely need to be ripened or unburied. Our fourth fruit to discuss is patience.
Take inventory of your life related to peace. When do you feel the most peace in your heart and soul? When do you feel the least peace? What specifically do you need to do to have more peace?
Three things have helped me maintain peace in my life. One is developing a habit of making the Lord my refuge, my hiding place. Merriam-Webster.com defines refuge as “a shelter or protection from danger or trouble.” That is how I look at my relationship with God. He protects me. He is my shelter. He does things on my behalf that I don’t see, but I feel and I know that He is hovering over me. Only when I recognize and acknowledge Him as my refuge am I in a spiritual posture to receive His peace. Another thing, the harder thing, is to rid myself of worry. Worry truly is the enemy of peace. Worry brings about anxiety, apprehension and many other negative feelings. It is impossible to have peace in the presence of worry. We have to replace our worry with prayer. Finally, as with the other fruits of the Spirit, I ask God to fill me with His peace, and He is faithful to do just that.
Our second fruit for our fruit bowl is joy. It is important to remember that joy is not constant happiness. There will be many times when you are not happy at all, but you CAN have joy even in those times if your foundation is Jesus Christ. With that foundation comes the gift of the Holy Spirit which makes this fruit available. Read on to dig a little deeper to explore the attribute of joy.
Most people relate joy with happiness. But, it is important to know that joy is not constant happiness. There will be many times when you are not happy at all, but you CAN still have joy if your foundation is Jesus Christ. With that foundation comes the gift of the Holy Spirit which makes this fruit available. Read on to see what you can do to bring back your joy!
Our first fruit to obtain for our fruit bowl is love. Loving someone can be easy…loving someone can be hard. But, one thing is for sure. We are called to love as Christ loves. That means loving those easy to love, those who are hard to love, those who have hurt us, and even those who seem unlovable. The only way to accomplish this is asking God to fill us with His love, with His Holy Spirit and both then flowing from us.
I have seen so many beautiful fruit bowls. Some were wooden and basically plain and simple. Some were a little more fancy with the fruit displayed beautifully in an exquisite porcelain bowl. All served one purpose…to hold delicious apples, oranges, pears, grapes and so many other kinds of fruit. We are like fruit bowls. We are supposed to hold the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” — Galatians 5:22-23 | NLT
I have always liked fruit. Apples and grapes are my favorite, but I love a good kiwi and strawberries, too! My eight-year-old niece loves fruit as well. Her favorite…chocolate covered strawberries. I know, I know…the chocolate kind of defeats the purpose of the healthy strawberry.
With or without chocolate, one thing is certain. God calls all Christians to develop the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The NLT version says it best to me, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives…” It is not up us to produce the fruit. It is up to the Holy Spirit. It is up to us to be flexible, to be completely open to God, and to desire God’s work in our life more than anything. Join me in this study, What’s in Your Fruit Bowl?, to learn what fruit should be in your fruit bowl and what God expects us to do with it.