The Fruit of The Spirit Part 8 – Faithfulness

29 Sep

Galations 5

Faithfulness is the act of being full or faith. To be faithful means to be steadfast and loyal. It means keeping your relationships pure, this often means spousal relationships, but it is also your relationship with God, your relationship with yours friends, and other family members, and even your relationship with your colleagues. In my searching I did not find anywhere that said faithfulness and like must go hand in hand. This means that you might not like something people do but you will not go around and be disloyal to those people by spreading gossip, speaking ill of them, or jumping ship the first chance you get. Obviously, there are some situations where jumping ship is the wise and right course of action, but the faithful person will weigh things up carefully and even if they do ultimately leave a relationship, or workplace, they will not be slanderous about that person or place. This is often a really hard thing for us to do. We live in a society where gossip sells, and people feed off the bad stories way more than they feed off the good ones.

To be faithful in the Godly sense, taking on this fruit and growing in it, means we must rise above our worldly urges and remain pure and filled with integrity.

Faithful has the word faith in it and in Hebrews 11:1 we learn that “faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of things unseen”. To be faithful means we are believing for a better, friendlier, more loving outcome in this world, and particularly in our own communities. God calls us to be an example of that and as such we need to display loyalty to Him by being someone above reproach. To be faithful is to shine the light of God in the darkest of places and when we are placed under a microscope all people can find is God in us.

This can seem like an impossible task, but God is reminding me that fruit doesn’t just appear, ripe and ready, on the tree or vine. First the plant must reach its stage of maturity, then a bud forms and from that a flower blooms, then through the miracle of development a fruit starts forming just behind the flower, at the end of the stem. The fruit slowly grows and develops and then once at full size it takes some time to ripen. That is what it is like for us too. Fruit grows sweetest and biggest when it is in good soil, with good nutrients, and watered regularly. We grow sweetest and biggest when we are planted in the word, nourished by mature believers and teachings, and watered with prayer.

Advertisements

The Fruit of the Spirit Part 7 – Goodness

15 Sep

Galations 5

The next fruit we come to is Goodness. The Oxford dictionary describes goodness as “The quality of being morally good or virtuous”. Another word for goodness, according to thesaurus.com is “Righteousness”.

Jesus tells us in Mark 10:18 that “no one is good but God alone”.

This tells me that true goodness is impossible without God. When the Holy Spirit came on us we were given the ability to live Christlike lives and therefore we are able to achieve goodness in and through God.

Goodness is about following the rules, both written and concluded according to the character of God. It is about seeking to do what is right, always, even to the detriment of friendships, family, and jobs. Goodness is about seeking the truth and following that truth. Goodness can often appear very black or white: it is either right or it is wrong.

One thing we need to be very careful about when we are seeking goodness is to know where the line between righteousness and self-righteousness is. Righteousness is following God’s rules and submitting to his character and guidance. Self-righteousness is lording those rules over others, usually in order to make yourself seem more holy and the other person less so. True goodness is always measured with love, peace, grace, and kindness.

In order to be good we need God, for God is good. We cannot achieve it on our own and the more we try to, the more we are bound to fail. The Pharisees were so bent on being morally good, obeying every little rule, that they even started creating some of their own, in the hopes of being even better, but in the end all that did was ostracise the people and set impossible rules that no one would ever be able to follow completely. Their seeking goodness ended up creating a guilt mentality. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are not about making us feel guilty. We all know we are guilty, we generally know when we have fallen short. The Holy Trinity wants us to lean on them, the only truly good ones, and hand over our short comings to them, learning from our mistakes and growing in steadfast character.

We will never be good without God but without God we will never really want to be because it is in our Godlike DNA, having been created in his image, to seek righteousness and when we know God, we will begin to know and understand what true goodness really is and we will hunger after it.

The Fruit of the Spirit Part 6 – Kindness

8 Sep

Galations 5

For me Kindness is one of the easiest and yet over looked fruit of the Spirit. When I think of kindness, I am immediately reminded of the golden rule found in Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you”. Kindness is simply treating others with love and respect, just how you would want to be treated. Kindness is something that everyone can easily achieve and something everyone should aspire to. It doesn’t have to be grand gestures, it is simply being thoughtful.

Kindness can be a nice word to someone, a simple smile, a gentle touch. Kindness can be offering to help someone out when they are in a bind and offering to pray for people who are hurting, or not hurting. Kindness can be giving someone flowers simply because you were thinking of them or making them a meal, so they don’t have to. Kindness can work itself out in all 5 of the love languages Gary Chapman talks about. You can offer to spend time with people, having a coffee, going to the movies, or just hanging out at home. You can serve them through mowing their lawns, offering to help clean, or washing their car. You can build them up with kind and genuine words of affirmation. You can give people gifts, which don’t have to cost a lot but come from the heart. You can offer people a shoulder to cry on, give them a hug, put a gentle hand on their shoulder so they know you are there.

Kindness can take so little effort on our behalf but can be so powerful to the ones we are extending kindness to.

This week I challenge you to practice kindness. When ever you are around others, think of some way you can make their life just a little brighter. Once you have done this, don’t stop. Do this to your spouse, your children, your parents, your colleagues, the stranger in the supermarket. Kindness is like a muscle. They more we use it, the stronger we get at it. The stronger we get at it, the more people are drawn to the Spirit in us and therefore to the Saviour King.

“Love and Kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They Bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” – Barbara De Angelis

The Fruit of the Spirit part 5 – Patience

1 Sep

Galations 5

 

This is the fruit that I, and apparently many others, struggle at the most. Even the word patience can give me chills. I remember being advised many years ago to “never pray for patience unless you want trials in which to grow some”. No truer words have ever been spoken. I think the more we stress about being patient, the less patient we become.

The things is, we all actually have patience in varying degrees.

The Oxford Dictionary describes patience as ‘the ability to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious’.

Patience isn’t the ability to wait for something, instead it is the ability to wait whilst still having your joy, peace and love.

An expectant mother may express that they are impatient for their child to be born. Actually they are just excited about it. They are filled with anticipation over something that is life changing, and a little scary, but ultimately wonderful. If anything, most expectant mothers have an abundance of joy and love for this new life.

Patience is something that grows with us as we grow. The more we display patience in the little things, like finding a car park on a busy day, the more we will grow in it and then be able to deal with bigger things. God also gives to those who seek and as we press into Him, we become more able to deal with the situations that come our way and therefore can wait, and tolerate, all that is thrown at us.

It is okay to be a little anxious about some things we are waiting on or dealing with in our lives. It is okay to want a certain day or event to occur (I have many friends already counting down to Christmas). The key with patience is to maintain a good attitude, despite the trials, and to recognize that no matter what happens, God goes before us and He is in control.

The Fruit of the Spirit Part 4 – Peace

25 Aug

Galations 5

I love the word peace. It is a word I can breathe in and breath back out again. It brings to me a stillness, rest,  and serenity that is rarely found in this world. It is something that seems so hard to reach sometimes but something that is available to all believers.

We often wonder how we will ever find peace in this world when there is so much turmoil and hatred going on. We are in a world where there are a million different opinions and beliefs about how things are and how things should be and those don’t often line up with what we know and believe according to the gospel.

We cannot listen to, read, or watch the news without seeing destruction and hate as we encounter natural disasters, or mass shootings, or broken families. This world is in upheaval and yet we are promised peace.

Jesus tells us that in this world we will face trials of many kinds but then he also tells us to take heart because he has overcome the world. What he is saying is that he is greater than those trials.

Peace isn’t the absence of chaos, it is more having a solid foundation in that chaos. It is being anchored to the Rock that is Christ so that even though we get knocked by the waves we can stand firm. Jesus demonstrated this peace many times but one that we all know rather well was when he was asleep in the bottom of the boat during a big storm. All the disciples were frantic and scared for their very lives and Jesus was at rest. He was at peace. He knew that God was in full and complete control of his life and that what ever came his way he could quiet, rebuke, or just ride through in the peace of God’s presence and grace.

Peace is knowing that there is no way we can steer the boat by ourselves, and it is handing that control over to our Father God, who created the boat and knows it well.

If you were about to take a long flight across the world you would not want a trainee pilot in control of that jet when you could have the most experienced pilot, who not only has thousands of flight hours but also created the plane and built it panel by panel, wire by wire. Peace is letting the manufacturer drive and not trying to constantly take the wheel back.

Peace is resting in God alone.

The Fruit of the Spirit – Part 3

18 Aug

Galations 5

The 3rd mentioned fruit of the Spirit is Joy. Joy is not happiness. It is a state of being. Jesus, being God, had all the fruit of the Spirit, all the time, which means that he had joy, but John 11 tells us the Jesus wept. If Joy was simply a state of happiness then it would not be likely that Jesus could be happy and sad at the same time. Joy exists outside of emotion.

You can’t have joy without love, which is why love comes first. Joy is the bubbly, effervescent, over flowing expression of Love. Joy is the knowledge that even though there are storms all around us and the waves are trying to knock us about, we are standing on the rock of salvation in Jesus.

Joy is the overwhelming knowledge that even though we have stuffed up in our lives many times, and are likely to keep on stuffing up, God holds us in the palm of his hand, he loves us, and he will not let us go.

Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the Joy of the Lord is our strength. We can have strength and joy also because God delights in us.

James 1:2 tells us to count it as Joy when we face trials. Why? Because Joy is not happiness and because trials strengthen us and draw us closer to God. We count it all joy because we know God is with us and when we battle the trials with him in our corner we will not only come out as better people but we will be that much closer to Creator and Father God.

Where love might be viewed as a fresh and sweet strawberry, joy is more like an olive; it has a tough skin, it is a little tart, but when pressed it over flows with amazing oil.

The Fruit of the Spirit part 2: Love

12 Aug

Galations 5

The first of the fruit mentioned in the above verse is love. This is important because love always comes first. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Later in the same verse it tells us that love doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Love NEVER Fails. The truly special thing about this is that God is love (1 John 4:8). So when we work toward having this fruit what we are really working toward truly being one with God. It is about allowing God to have the power over us and us surrendering everything to Him. When we grow the fruit of love in our lives we are becoming less of the sinful person and more of the Holy person made in the image of God the creator and Jesus His son.

This is not something we are going to perfect overnight. It is going to take us a lifetime to truly display Godly love in all things. It is something to aspire to, cultivate in our lives and diligently seek, all the days of our life.

It is a never ending, ever growing, beautiful cycle. The more we love, the godlier we become. The godlier we become, the more we are able to love.

Love is truly amazing and special.