At church this morning, the teaching was on Love and Galatians 5:22-26, and because of the way that God is working in my own heart and mind, I took some time to meditate on these scriptures as they relate to my journey in Hunger Within. I gave myself an assignment: How do I live out the Fruit of the Spirit? The assignment wasn’t easy, but here is what I came up with.
The first Fruit of the Spirit is Love. In and of myself, I am very lacking in the fruit of love. In my flesh, I tend more towards frustration and criticism. I don’t like this about myself and it hurts to even admit this, but this is me when I am not renewing my mind and immersing myself in God’s Word. Can you relate? These feelings can draw me into destructive eating. But, because of the Holy Spirit leading me to let go of my self-absorbed focus concerning my body, my weight, my food issues, I am choosing to love more. It is easier to ask God to love others through me because I am not looking down at myself, but up to the LORD and around at others. I am seeing this fruit being manifested in my life.
The second Fruit of the Spirit is Joy. Most people who know me say that I am outgoing and fun to be around. That is the façade that I show to the outside world. But have I been joy-filled? Not always. I have leaned more towards joy in my life because I have always loved the scripture that says, “The joy of the LORD is my strength.” Unfortunately, this is me when I am by myself! That kind of joy could be better defined as happiness. When you add my family, my friends, my church family, my co-workers, my acquaintances, joy is not usually what I feel in my heart. Why? Because, in my flesh, I get aggravated and frustrated. It isn’t the true joy that comes from walking closely with the Lord that isn’t dependent on what is going on around me. It is only when I allow the Holy Spirit to work in every area of my life that I can truly feel and experience joy in all circumstances.
The third Fruit of the Spirit is Peace. I love peace. I used to love singing, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Sadly, I can show a peaceable exterior, but underneath it all, there is often chaos. It is so easy to get caught up in the drama of life; especially with my family! How can I exhibit peace in my life when so much chaos is always going on around me? Only by pausing and asking God to grant me peace in the storm of life. Could I ever stop and pray if I am caught up in the drama of others around me and also living with the internal drama of body and food focus? No, I couldn’t. Working through the issues that have caused me to be discontented in the first place and by going to God with thanksgiving and prayer, I can experience the peace of God that surpasses every thought and will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
The fourth Fruit of the Spirit is Patience. This is a hard one for me! I am fond of saying that patience is not a muscle I was born with and have also been known for blaming my mother for teaching me impatience by her modeling of this behavior. It isn’t her fault though. Have you heard people say, “Don’t pray for patience or you will be put in situations where you have to learn patience?” I used to say that too. I’ve decided I want to pray for patience, for through trials, God’s Word promises that when I count it all joy when I fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of my faith produces patience, and then I let patience have its perfect work, that I may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. I want that in my life.
The fifth Fruit of the Spirit is Kindness. Let me come clean about how I have been kind in the past. I am always kind to a person’s face, but in my past, I have often turned around and talked badly about that person if there was anything about them that rubbed me the wrong way. God has changed my heart towards others through my almost constant prayer to let me see others through His eyes. He has answered this prayer and has given me a spirit of discernment to see what others are going through. Kindness is being friendly, generous and considerate. Teaching in Hunger Within has grown my kindness muscle as God works through my life to help others.
The sixth Fruit of the Spirit is faith. We know from God’s Word that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I personally met the Lord Jesus Christ at church camp when I was 9 years old and my faith has been growing ever since. There have been trials and struggles that I never would have made it through without Him. He has proven to me that His hand has been on my life even when I was backsliding. His presence never left me. I not only hoped for a Savior, I had faith that I met the unseen Savior in person. Dear reader, if you have not personally met Jesus, please let me share my faith with you!
The seventh Fruit of the Spirit is Gentleness. I didn’t quite understand this word till I realized that one of its opposites is pride. God is diligently working in my life to break my pride. He has shown me how I want to do things in my own strength, and to be gentle in spirit, I need to place my strength under the control of God. I am finding that in order for me to be gentle with others, I have to give up my right to be right which drives others away from me. I want to allow the Jesus in me to draw others, so I pray to be gentle and let my Shepherd lead me.
Finally, the eighth Fruit of the Spirit is Self-Control. This is interesting, because in myself, I really don’t have any self-control. I find self-control by turning my whole life and heart over to God and allow Him to move in me. He gives me the desire to follow His leading in my 0 to 5 eating boundaries. He gives me the desire to follow as He leads me into having boundaries around relationships. He gives me self-control when I feel myself getting frustrated and critical. It is His strength that keeps me from acting out those feelings by either hurting another with unkind words or myself by eating outside of my boundaries.
I am not living the Fruit of the Spirit perfectly, for I won’t be perfect till I meet the Lord Jesus face to face. What I am enjoying is the working of the Holy Spirit in my heart as I do see more and more evidences of the Fruit in my life.
What about you? Are you willing to do this assignment along with me? I would love to hear how you are “Living in the Fruit of the Spirit!”