By Marsha Loftis
This Week’s Verse: Galatians 5:22, “But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with it’s passions and desires. Since we live by the spirit, let us keep in step with the spirit.” (NIV)
There have been times in my life where I have had people tell me that whenever I get upset or angry or impatient that I should just take a minute and “count to ten”. This advice has served me well in the past. Like when I am getting ready to discipline my daughter. I’m not supposed to do that when I’m angry because I will scare her instead of teach her. I want her respect, not fear. So, I will stop and count to ten. This action has saved her butt many times!
I also have times when I count to nine… There are nine Fruits of the Spirit. These are things that God has blessed us with when we gave our lives over to Jesus. If we have Jesus in our hearts, then we have the fruits of the spirit in us. Those times when I get impatient, mouthy, uncaring, or just plain rude I am reminded that I don’t need to “go there”—that nasty place that some people choose to live in. I might visit, but I don’t have to stay there because I have something in me that keeps bringing me back.
I have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. They’re there! I know this because God says so. I might have trouble with one or all of them from time to time, but there’s no doubt in my mind that they are in me.
God gave me the spirit of Love so that I may love others as He loves me, ALL OTHERS. Not just the lovable ones, the unlovable ones too!
He gave me the spirit of Joy so that when others see me enjoying the blessings of God they will wonder, ‘What’s she so happy about?’ And this is the open door to tell that “lovable” character all about Jesus!
He has given me the spirit of Peace so that we may live in the world and be not of the world in its un-peaceful ways. So that we may carry the peace of Christ in our hearts everywhere we go.
He gave me Patience because He knew my daughter before I did! We also need peace so we don’t give up so easily on those around us who are in need of Jesus and just won’t admit it. It would be so easy to just say, ‘This person frustrates me because I have the answer they are searching for they just won’t listen. It’s not worth it.’ God says they are. And we need to hang in there for their sake.
Kindness—this is one we need so we will actually keep people around long enough to listen to us! No one is going to be in your company if you treat them poorly; then who will you have to witness to?
We have the spirit of Goodness in order that we may always have a choice to do the right thing. Use that goodness that Jesus placed in our hearts to watch out and care for the people in our lives. To simply say, ‘Please and thank you,’ 'God bless you,’ and ‘Excuse me’. Little things make a big difference in showing your character to the people you are around every day.
Faithfulness. I think this was given to us so we may not be tempted to try it another way. When we give our lives to Jesus, it’s not just once. It’s like an addict chooses to stay sober every day. We have a choice to make every day. Do we choose to give our lives to Jesus today, tomorrow, and every day there after? Faithfulness will keep us coming back to the One who has given so sacrificially of His love and strength so that we may have the opportunity to spend our eternity with Him.
Gentleness. We HAVE to have a gentleness of spirit to embrace hurting people without judging them. When we ask, ‘How are you?’ Do we wait for an answer? When someone actually says, ‘Wow. Thanks for asking. I’ve had a really bad time lately. I kinda need someone to talk to.’ We have to be able to listen gently, without judgment in order for them to see God through us. If God’s people are harsh and unforgiving, then what kind of God are we representing to the ones who need Him more than anything?
I feel like Self-control is more for our inward needs than our outward reaches. We have to maintain some form of self-control to live a life worth witnessing about. Plus, if we don’t, how’s anyone going to tell us apart from those living for this world? Self-control is also a gift to be used when we mess up. When someone says, ‘I heard you cuss under your breath’ or ‘I saw you lose your temper the other day’. That spirit is there to keep us from saying, “Yeah, well, you’re not perfect either, y’know?!” That spirit is there so that we may keep our composure and say instead, “Yeah. I know. I’m sorry you had to hear that. I’m not perfect but I serve someone who is. And in His perfect love, I’ve already asked for his forgiveness and He has forgiven.”
Father God, help me to always remember that your spirit is forever with me. Remind me daily that you have given these gifts to me so I may show others the true character of your son. So that I may live a life that's pleasing to you. Give me your strength to call upon you in all things so that your Name will be glorified in all I do. Thank you for these and all the other gifts in my life. Amen.
The next time you need to count to ten, try counting to Nine instead. Memorize the Fruits of the Spirit and call them out in your mind. By the time you get through all nine, you will probably forget whatever made you want to start counting in the first place. And if not, you will at least be reminded that all these things are in you because of who loves you and it will be harder for you to go to your ‘Nasty Place’ after all! Say them with me now:
Love, Joy, Peace
Patience, Kindness, Goodness
Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control
Ezekiel 36:26-28, "I'll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I'll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that's God-willed, not self-willed. I'll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and to live by my commands." (MSG)
Ephesians 5:8-10, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord." (NIV)
1 John 4:13-16, "He's given us life from his life, from his very own spirit. Also, we've seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God's son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we've embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God." (MSG)