“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!” Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Phillipians 1:6 (NLT)
Are you like me when Galatians 5:22-23 is read in church or on your own? To me it feels like I am going through a checklist and seeing where I am falling short. If I am honest, and more likely than not, if you are honest, it can be quite discouraging.
Some thoughts may be:
Love: Am I showing it in ways that honor God? Wow, I don’t really even like that person, how can I love them?
Joy: I’ve been pretty down lately and looking more at my circumstances than what God is doing and can do.
Peace: How can I have peace when everything around me is falling apart?
Patience: Wow, I blew that one again with the kids!
Kindness: I wanted to be anything but kind to the person who passed up all the traffic knowing that the road was going down to one lane and expected me to let them in!
Goodness: Going through this list is pointing out all the places that goodness is not in my life and where I am falling short!
Faithfulness: I was late to work again! Or, I told my kids I would do that and didn’t follow through!
Gentleness: I was not very calm when I tried to have a conversation with my spouse last week.
Self-control: I once again binged on my favorite ice cream while watching TV last night. I was only going to have a little bit and ended up eating the entire carton!
These types of thoughts can leave us wondering if we will ever get it together. But I have two pieces of good news for you!
First, there is no need to get too caught up in emotions. We may not always “feel” the fruit. Instead, we would be wise to examine the quality of our relationships with others.
Second, these fruits do not actually appear based on our effort. If they did we would all be there and “have it all together”. But it doesn’t and we don’t. Fruit grows based on what is happening inside the plant that is producing the fruit and the soil and sunlight it receives. These fruits come into our lives by planting ourselves in the good soil and sunlight of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Even when we don’t “feel” God working in our lives we can trust that He is. He is working deep down inside of us if we are planted in Him and someday the fruit will emerge. This is just like how we don’t see the fruit from a plant out of season, but work is being done in the plant. Only when we put ourselves in “a consistent posture of actively turning our whole being to God so that God’s presence, purpose and power can be released through our lives into all situations” can we have these fruits grow in us (Mulholland 107).
Don’t be discouraged my friend! God loves you too much to leave you fruitless.
Are you actively turning your whole being to God and letting Him complete the good work He began in you?
What area of your life are you still holding onto?
What step can you take today to get planted in the good soil and fresh sunlight of God?
Resource: Mulholland, M. Robert, Jr. Invitation to a Journey: A Roadmap for Spiritual Formation. Expanded ed., InterVarsity Press, 2016.