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Apples and oranges

So its winter here in New Zealand which brings about that wonderful illness know as a cold, that at some stage in life we are bound to contract, leaving us feeling like rubbish. The general thing to do when we are sick is to seek medical help in order to overcome it and improve our health and wellbeing.

I wonder how often we do the same for our spiritual health? Or do we let our minds become so foggy with junk that we can’t function clearly?

We can’t seem to open our eyes because we’re clouded over by the wrong things, all the while becoming spiritually blind to the things around us.

Sound familiar? God gave us some really great encouragement to help us in our walk, to know His character and who He is. They are known as the Fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control.

These 9 fruits help us to really ensure we are allowing The Holy Spirit to lead us and develop the above traits in us. We cannot obtain these traits with out The Holy Spirits help.

Let me break each of them down and help to explain them a little more.

 

Love 

I feel like we throw this word around a little too often and a little too quickly without ever really taking on board the gravity of what it actually means. While the world may use this word lightly, Jesus did not. He speaks of an ‘agape’ love – love that is all encompassing – a complete love toward Him and and others. This is how He desires us to love others and Him. It is a choice not a feeling. It is sacrificial and selfless.

John 13:34 “Because that love is now in our hearts, we can obey Jesus who said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another”

Joy

Joy that comes only from God does not depend on circumstances. It is a state of mind that doesn’t change quickly. It is everlasting and allows for deep contentment, no matter what is going on around you. It is also a choice. We can either draw near to God in tough times or we can allow those tough times to cause division in our relationship with God.

Psalm 16:11″You will fill me with joy in your presence

Peace

This trait allows us to be people who can experience a peace that transcends all understanding and will not be found in anything the world has to offer. It allows for the believer to be a person who can exhibit peace in unpeaceful situations, a peacemaker not a conflict maker.

Philippians 4:6-7  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Patience

This can be a really hard thing to achieve in todays world where we live in such a “microwave” generation where we want things NOW and we won’t wait even if it could harm us later on. God wants us to be patient people who trust in His ways and in His timing knowing that the wait will be worth it. This is something that doesn’t  happen overnight. God is a patient God and will work with us to achieve this.

Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him to act”

Kindness

This trait is one that compels us to have the the same heart that God has for us towards others with our actions. It helps us to be considerate, sweet natured and compassionate.

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Goodness

This characteristic allows for one to act selflessly and to be more concerned about the welfare of others. This trait is more than just being good. It requires us to put it in to action and DO good for those around us. To do something good for somoene with the intention of showing off or receiving the credit is not the goodness God is seeking from us as believers. He is wanting us to do good so that HE is reflected in our actions to those around us. Goodness in essence is the very nature of God after all.

Matthew 5:15-16 “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Faithfulness

In this definition of faithfulness it is talking of the faith we place in God, that we trust that He is who He says He is. It is the assurance that He loves us and that He is for us and not against us, and that at all times His plans are for our good. It is a faith so strong that it changes ones life to where they desire the things of God and not of this world.

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Gentleness

We all have a voice and we all have the choice to be either gentle in approach or we can be argumentative and angry. How we talk to others can hugely influence the outcome. We are called to be people who are gentle in nature to speak words that are loving, kind and seasoned with grace. It is far better to be humble than to call attention to ourselves.

Philippians 4:5 “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. “

Self Control

We live in a world where everything good and bad is at our fingertips like never before. The ability to refrain from instant gratification and lean towards deep long term satisfaction seems massively unappealing to most people, but for those that desire Jesus, we DO have the ability to achieve this despite how hard it can seem at first. It helps us to have control over not only our actions but our thought and words too, which can ultimately influence our behaviours. Exhibiting this type of control allows us to enjoy more longterm satisfaction and builds our relationship as we continue trusting in Gods ways over the worlds.

2 Timothy 1-7″For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

While God isn’t asking or expecting perfection, He does desire for us to be striving to show these characteristics in our lives. If you are struggling in these areas that’s ok – normal in fact! As you continue to allow God full access to your heart and life the more you will begin to imitate Him in your words, actions and life in general.

Be encouraged and know that He is always willing to help and His heart is that you may reflect His!