One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible comes from Galatians 5:22 ď But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-controlĒ.
The reason is because it gives us clear instruction on the character that God wants us to emulate. These 9 attributes are to be the core of our personalities, heart, soul, spirit and we have to work daily with our Spirit to strengthen them.
It sounds so simple. But when I looked further into each of these I realized that it is not so simple because itís deep and we are human, which means we already fall short of these because our nature is to buck against good.
I mean come on, to take on the character of our brother, Jesus? How many of us are that selfless, that kind, can love that deep? We have a hard enough time just paying the bills that we owe without having an attitude about it. But we have to work at it because we are Christians, have to be Christ likeÖ..itís already in our Spirit, we just have to work it, as Pastor says, like a muscle. So to ignore it, is to ignore the Spirit, our guide, which was given to us when we gave our life to Christ.
What is love?
Itís not just about caring for someone. Itís being selfless; self-sacrificing; a benevolent concern for one another; affectionate; loyal. It is not just about tolerating someone. And yes, to even be this way to your enemies. Now, thatís hard. So itís a daily work. You have to love God, self and then others. It is the 1st fruit listed, meaning the most important. If you work on love, the other 8 fruit are easier to obtain
What is Joy?
To be happy; rejoicing; cheerful; festive; delight; gladness of heart. Personally when I think of joy I think of the light God wants us to be because joy is about rejoicing and praising and testifying about the goodness of God. Just the wordÖ.itís the dancing, the singing, the writing, the gift God has put in you that you share with the world. Itís why you smile.
What is peace?
Tranquility; rest; harmony; sense of wellbeing; absence of agitation. This is a hard one but a needed fruit. We live in a world of tension, heartache, pain and strife. It is so important to remember that in the midst of all these things we have to hold on and not jap out. Keep calm. And when we have that it is an awesome thing and feeling. Knowing during the storm, God still has us, so why stress about it, itís handled.
What is longsuffering?
Now this one is a major issue with many people today. This deals with patience; forbearance; endurance; ability to endure persecution and ill treatment. We live in a fast pace society filled with short fused individuals and we want NOW. God works on his time and not ours and His time may be slower that what we want. But we have to learn to check ourselves not only when it comes to waiting on God but with others. If God was an impatient God, we wouldnít be given the chances He gives when we mess up. One strike and weíd be out and hell bound. So we need to definitely work on this attribute, as Iím sure itís a hard one for many.
What is kindness?
Goodness of heart; pleasant; gracious; hospitality; serviceable; readiness to help. This is one that definitely goes hand in hand with love. Once you embrace your loving quality, the kind way you act towards others is evident.
What is goodness?
Kindness in actual manifestation; ready to do good; love in action; virtue equipped for action. So basically itís the ACTION behind the love and kindness. Itís whatís in you that people see and want to be. It is what they watch and hence, what God uses in us to bring a non-believer to Him. It is the good in God that saves us and because of His goodness, His mercy and Grace. That same thing we need to work on and when we do, itís showing others His goodness and they want that. It should be the core in us.
What is faithfulness?
Steadfast; dedicated; loyal; trustworthy; stable; dependable; dedicated. This one is not just for God. He does want us to remain faithful to Him and our walk. But we are also supposed to stay faithful to our spouses, family and friends. Show our trustworthiness, remain steadfast even when tempted, stay true to our word and promises. God takes this very seriously.
What is gentleness?
Mildness; tenderness; gracious; controlled strength; reasonable; tranquil in spirit; even tempered. There is a time to be stern and a time to be gentle. The Spirit guides you into which are needed for any given situation and person(s).
The best example is with children. You have to know when to dish out the tough love and when a gentle word or touch is needed. Balance should be the key. You can turn someone away from you and Christ with being harsh and ill tempered, when what they seek is softness.
What is self-control?
Temperance; sober; calm; restraint; discipline; mastering desires. This is a big one. This attribute is what controls what you do in the battle of the Spirit and flesh. Your flesh wants now, your flesh wants to sin, your flesh wants to fight, your flesh wants to wild out but the fruit of self-control helps you to fight against these things and check yourself. But it is definitely one of the attributes that need daily work because the flesh is pulsating to do wrong minute by minute. It doesnít stop but if we work on our self-control, the fight becomes easier and our choices wiser.
To be Christ like is a hard road to travel when you have the flesh to contend with but the benefits of doing and living and walking right makes it worth it all. This one scripture on the fruits of the Holy Spirit gives us the summary on what God expects us to become and act. Once we get in line with that our lives would be that much enjoyable, happy and stress free.