In the same day, I was cut off in traffic and nearly run off the road, plus I had to call my husband to come home from work to deal with a car problem caused by one of my kiddos. I had to ask, Where is my patience? At the end of hard days, I want nothing more than a bowl of Blue Bell ice cream—even though I’m STILL lamenting the 10 pounds that stands between me and a few of my jeans! I’ve got to wonder, Where is my self-control? After many years of difficulties, and even though nothing is “wrong” now, I’m struggling to see the good in life and in God. Where is my joy?
The “Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). I used to beat myself up over missing the mark here. This scripture was another just checklist of failures for me. I was chasing the Fruit of the Spirit, rather than the Spirit. Of course, I always fell short, which led to discouragement and despair.
Instead of feeling distress over failure,
what if our mistakes were a cause for rejoicing?
Spiritual missteps are inevitable. Paul reminds us “None is righteous, no, not one…no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10, 12). Our flesh makes us weak. But, Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9). Paul goes further, saying, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10) because knowing our weakness, drives us to Jesus.
Here’s Jesus’ checklist: The Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40) tells us what it looks like to serve God well: (1) love God (2) love your neighbor as yourself (v. 39). We simply are not able to love anyone at all, without God. Love for others is the overflow of our love for God and this same overflow brings joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
I used to chase the Fruit of the Spirit, rather than the Spirit. I learned, the hard way, that He was right all along. I can’t do anything good without Him! God’s nearness to me is my good (Psalm 73:28).
Out of His goodness, God created good spiritual gifts for us and they are ours. No one can take them away. The Holy Spirit, residing in believers, is the delivery method. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control are outpourings of the Spirit:
Since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:19-23).
Let’s throw away our checklists. Let’s draw near to God and let Him do the rest because He is faithful.
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