Finding God in the Fruit of the Spirit
Think of someone you truly admire and respect. Think about the reasons you admire and respect this person. What qualities does this person inhibit that are worth respecting and admiring? Perhaps it’s their optimism or their ability to be constructively honest while maintaining kindness. There are certain qualities that effortlessly and beautifully dance together in other’s lives that magnetize your admiration; seeing these qualities creates a desire to adopt them in your own life.
Now, if we think about God and His qualities, what comes to mind? As we think about the qualities of God, we are thinking about what helps us understand Him. It’s so easy for many people to only think about His wrath or His justice. But just as His wrath is strong and powerful, so is His love for us. Luke 12:6-8 (ESV) expresses how extraordinary God’s love for us is, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” And because His love for us is endless and powerful, He wants us to exhibit His qualities and His goodness throughout our lifetime. Galatians 5:22-23 states that the fruit of the Spirit is these qualities, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” In Galatians, Paul emphasizes that when we open our hearts for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, we too may obtain the fruit of the Spirit. When in Christ, we are in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). When we welcome God in our hearts and into our lives, we understand that His qualities work together for our good (Romans 8:28). Let’s dive into each of the fruits of the Spirit together.
As mentioned earlier, God’s love for us is endless and powerful. He gave His only son out of this love so that we can be saved (John 3:16). God’s love for us is unconditional and absolutely perfect. Because God’s love is perfect and holds no record of our wrongdoing, as long as we believe in Him, He calls us to love others just the same. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs,” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). God has love for me, for you, and even for our enemies. Each day I am in awe of His love for all of us. There is no prejudice in God’s love. And each day, I pray God will work in my heart to love in His love. To further understand God’s love, check out our article from last week.
Viktor E. Frankl was imprisoned in a concentration camp and had many opportunities to become defeated and broken. However, each time he chose to find thankfulness in his circumstances. He witnessed the kindness among the prisoners, the sharing of bread among each other (rather than taking the whole thing for oneself), and the love and support they expressed together. Frankl wrote about his experiences in the concentration camp in a book called, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” One of his infamous quotes in the book reads, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” While Frankl could have easily crumbled and curled away into despair, he chose to find joy in people and things around him. When God calls us to be joyful despite our circumstances, He is also teaching us to remain steadfast in our faith. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope,” (Romans 5:3-4). We have joy because God has made a way for us to be near Him through his Son Jesus Christ. Through Christ, we are saved and promised an eternal life with Him when we receive Him.
To be at peace is to know that God is with us always. When we’re in trails of darkness, we are rest assured that God is with us. Before Jesus was crucified, He knew His disciples would be frightened. Therefore, Jesus reassured them, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” (John 14:27). When Jesus was resurrected, He knew He would return to His Father, however, He didn’t leave us unattended. Jesus made certain we will be guided by His Holy Spirit. As Christians, we aren’t promised an easy life, but we have peace because Christ took it all of our transgression. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33).
Patience is probably one of the most difficult fruits for many of us to practice. Sometimes, we may find it challenging to wait on God when we pray for change or for Him to show up in our desperation. Without the discipline of patience, our reactive state of mind potentially causes strife and misunderstanding. Proverbs 15:18 says, “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” Patience is an admirable quality because it means you can wait and work through agitation. Sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers when we want Him to, but we are called to be patient and wait on Him, even when His timing feels like such a long delay because His timing is honest and helps us grow in our faith as we wait. May we trust in God during our waiting period. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land,” (Psalms 37:7-9).
Something I’ve learned through relationships is the importance of being kind to other’s feelings. There have been plenty of times when I don’t understand why some people feel the way they do. However, I’ve learned that some people aren’t seeking advice, or even to be understood, but rather they’re looking for someone to see their situation and respond in kindness and gentleness. You don’t need to understand someone’s feelings to be kind to them. In fact, you don’t even have to agree with their feelings, but we are called to be kind to their feelings. And as Christians, we are even called to express kindness to our enemies. Kindness means extending love to everyone and anyone you run into, without prejudice. Mark Twain said this about kindness, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Like love, kindness is universal. As Christians, we are to follow the exhortation of Ephesians 4:32 which says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Growing up, I’m sure many of us heard, “be good.” What did “be good” mean? Perhaps it meant helping our parents around the house, or being nice to our siblings, or doing well in school. Whatever the case, we were told and expected to be good. But what does that command really mean? As Christians, goodness means following God’s commands in order to honor Him and serve others. And as we lead with goodness, we are glorifying God. To act well is to live well. Acting well, or having the goodness of God is the Holy Spirit working throughout our lives, in order to expose the goodness of God to others. Doing good doesn’t mean doing good acts to receive recognition, rather doing good means selflessly caring for others to bring glory to God. If a friend is having a rough day, write a note or send an encouraging message. If someone is struggling to load heavy bags of groceries into their car, gently offer help. Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.” In Scripture, Jesus is called the Good Shepherd because He laid down His life for His sheep. May we reflect this same goodness, through the Holy Spirit.
To trust is to have faith. Faithfulness is definitely needed to continue having a close relationship with God. Having faithfulness shapes our way of life and provides loyalty to our earthly relationships. It is one thing to believe in God, but another thing to be faithful to God. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” The more we place our trust and hope in Jesus, the stronger our faith in God. Think about it, oftentimes we don’t place our faith in unreliable people. Why is that? Because we cannot trust them after the many times they failed to come through. But God is always reliable. The Bible was written a few thousand years ago and His promises still remain true. 2 Timothy 2:11-13 says, “Here is a trustworthy saying; If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown him, He will also disown us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”
When I think of gentleness, I think of a loving and nurturing mother taking care of her children. As a mom, I remember how careful I handled my infant son. I can picture him just a few hours old and very little. I remember a task as simple as laying him down required careful movement so he wouldn’t be hurt or startled. This is an example of a physical gentleness. There is also gentleness with our words. Our words have power to build someone up or tear somebody down. Ephesians 4:29 holds this reminder, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Jesus expresses His gentleness in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in your heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” As Christians, we are called to mirror this same quality to others. 2 Timothy 2:-24-25 says, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” It takes a strong person to be gentle. We have to know and accept there is evil in the world yet through the power of Christ remain gentle; this is a strength only God can work in our hearts.
I’ll be the first to admit I am an extremely reactive person. When I feel attacked, I go from 0 to 100 in seconds. I leave no room or time to even control my rapid feelings and thoughts. I react very quickly. I desire to manage and control the situation that made me feel attacked, and resist the call from the Holy Spirit to slow down because I want to receive an apology loudly. In moments when I lack self-control, I leave room for my feelings to take control of me. However, in biblical self-control, as believers, we choose to give up trying to control things on our own and instead turn to God for help. Thank God for His qualities of … and His fruit of the spirit. 2 Peter 1:5-6 says, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness.” May we listen to Holy Spirit with us as we practice self-control. The phrase “Let go and Let God” is a cliché but it holds true. The more we try to control things on our own, the more these things fall apart. How ironic, we are trying to control situations so as to not allow them to fall apart, but the tighter we hold on to that control, the more they fall apart. God is in control and as His adopted children, we are called to give up control and trust in Him.
As the Holy Spirit guides and works in our lives, we are being transformed into the image of God. Through this transformation we develop the fruit of the Spirit Where we once were chained to our sin, reflecting our human nature, through the Spirit we can receive and achieve the characteristics and qualities of God, reflecting our Heavenly Father. This is a remarkable transformation. Similarly to how we are inspired to adopt the qualities of the people we admire, when we reflect on God’s qualities we are encouraged to grow in these fruits through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. God’s qualities flow so effortlessly together, a dance in unison that works together for our good and His good. When shared, these qualities bring glory to God—enough so that others may come to know Christ as well. As we carefully ponder God’s wonderful qualities, I pray He brings forth wisdom and a courageous heart to share with others who don’t yet know Him. As we carefully ponder God’s wonderful qualities, I pray He brings forth wisdom and understanding to better glorify Him.