Love, joy, peace…

I’ve been contemplating this passage of Scripture for the last couple of days: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

It’s striking to contrast that list of attributes with the traits of character that dominate our current cultural climate.  How much would we love to see more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control exhibited in our society?

But, as Ghandi reminded us, the first step to changing things in the world is to change ourselves.  If I want to see more of the “fruits of the Spirit” in the world then I need to make sure that the world is seeing more of those fruits in my life.  And the Apostle Paul’s use of the word “fruit” in Galatians 5:22 actually helps us see how we can do this.

For a fruit to grow, its plant must be regularly pruned of the things that threaten its growth and development, it must be protected from the harmful elements of its environment, and it must be consistently nurtured and cared for.  Then, after all that, the grower of the fruit must trust God’s creation to do what God’s creation is meant to do.

In the same way, for the fruits of God’s Spirit to grow in our lives we must:

  1. Regularly prune away the things in our lives that threaten to lead us away from the truth and righteousness of God.
  2. Protect ourselves from the harmful elements in our “environment” by being mindful of who and what we are allowing to influence our hearts and minds.
  3. Consistently nurture and care for our souls by making sure we are being filled with the goodness of God and are engaging in the things “of God.”
  4. Then, we must trust that God, through His Spirit, will grow us into the image of Christ.

So, here’s some questions to consider:

What pruning do you need to do for the fruit of the Spirit to grow in your life?

How can you protect yourself from the elements of your environment that are harmful to your goal of growing in the fruits of the Spirit?

What habits will ensure that you are consistently nurturing the fruit of the Spirit that is growing in your life?

In what ways are you demonstrating that you trust God’s ability to grow you into the image of Christ through His Spirit?

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