This response from God has driven me to the 5th chapter of Galatians. I have read and reread this chapter the past couple of weeks and what I have felt God speaking to my heart is this..."those closest to you should be tasting the sweetest of sweet fruits of My Spirit. My love, My joy, My peace, My patience, My kindness, My gentleness, My faithfulness, My self-control." Those closest to me. Hmmm. That means my husband, children and friends. Why is it sometimes easier to poor good fruit out on perfect strangers than those who mean the most to us in our life?
The commentary in my Bible gives a little explanation of each fruit. As I studied these, I realized I had a very relaxed view of what the "Fruits" mean in my life.
- Love: a caring for and seeking the highest good of another person without motive of personal gain.
- Joy: the feeling of gladness based on the love, grace, blessings, promises and nearness of God.
- Peace: the quietness of heart and mind based on the knowledge that all is well between me and God.
- Patience: endurance, long-suffering; being slow to anger or despair.
- Kindness: not wanting to hurt anyone or cause them pain.
- Goodness: zeal for truth and righteousness and a hatred of evil; it can be expressed in acts of kindness or in rebuking and correcting evil.
- Faithfulness: firm and unswerving loyalty to a person to whom one is united by promise, commitment, trustworthiness and honesty.
- Gentleness: restraint coupled with strength and courage; it describes a person who can be angry when anger is needed and humbly submissive when submission is needed.
- Self-control: mastering one's own desires and passions.
God has been showing me that denying my flesh and living instead, by His Spirit, doesn't just happen. It takes great intention and a willingness to listen to His voice as He reminds me when I am acting out of my flesh instead of responding out of my spirit. I literally have had moments when I realize I haven't been listening....I stop, I think, I go back through my actions, words and motives of the last few hours, and realize that if I'm not in tune with Him, Elizabeth happens. If I am in tune with Him, Jesus happens.
In praying over these attributes and asking God to make them more alive in me, He has reminded me that these fruits aren't given to us....instead, we are given opportunities to "practice" love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. He sets up our life so that experiences come our way where the fruits can be exercised in us and in the effort of the practice...we slowly become more and more like Him.