“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 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! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” Galatians 5:16-26 NLT
I had a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary who said, “pay attention! It says Fruit not Fruits.” How often do you hear people say, “The Fruits of the Spirit?” These are not separate “fruits” to strive for but one big fruit, which is probably why I like this print so much. It’s one fruit with all the parts listed in it.
So that means that the goal is not to simply master one of these but to master them all, so that your fruit can harvest. Let’s take a look at the list again: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. What in the list do you find easy? What do you find hard?
For me love is easy when the person is easily loved. I read a newspaper article earlier today where a man with Developmental Disabilities who was supposed to be in a safe place but was used, abused and eventually murdered. It’s hard to love the people who did that. So I guess I have to work on love some more.
Joy, comes from the anguish, heartache and grief of difficult situations. So getting to joy is not fun but joy in itself is good. I still think some days I need to work on letting more joy into my life.
Peace, this feels pretty easy until I start worrying about something. Most of the time I am peaceful but when I’m not, it’s easy to pray to God and ask for peace.
Patience…oh boy. I really need to work on patience. I feel my sinful nature coming up when I’m impatient. I don’t have patience with myself, I don’t have patience with drivers on the road, I don’t have patience…. Let’s just say I need to work on this one.
Kindness, I feel pretty confident with kindness. Unless you’re that person on I-70 that cuts me off, then my patience is gone and all you are getting is my anger. Again, another moment when my sinful nature comes up. So kindness is easy when life is easy.
Goodness, again I feel like I have goodness down, until something happens that makes things not so good, then my sinful nature shows up.
But faithfulness, I’m definitely good on this one. I don’t like to brag, but I will for this purpose. My faith in God is strong, it always has been. When I was a child, I had a fight with a friend and was worried that we would never be friends again. I was tossing and turning while not sleeping in my bed and God tapped on my shoulder and I just knew that a) it was him and b) everything was going to be ok. And then I fell into a deep peaceful sleep.
Gentleness, hmm I could probably work on this one too. What can I say I’m a work in progress?
Self-control….I think I’ve explained that I need to work on this, just see above.
Ok, so I need to work on all the aspects of my fruit. What about you? Are you where you think you should be? What do you feel you need to work on?
Lord, we thank you for spending time with us tonight and for showing us what we need to work on and where we are letting our sinful natures rule. We ask that you walk alongside each of us as we work to have better love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We know that we are a work in progress, please help us to remember this as we work on the fruit of the spirit. We know that you give us these things from the Spirit and as we strive to do better at each of them we ask for your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, for we learn best by your example. Lord thank you for all of your gifts and please be with us in the days, weeks, and months ahead. We ask all these things in your precious and holy name, Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
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