Friday, May 3, 2013

Fruits of the Spirit

So much of life is awareness and response. I've been having really bad chest pains and this morning I was feeling miserable in every way. I dug into the Word but was still feeling down and in pain. I went about my normal routine, getting ready, making breakfast, packing my bag to go to the library...when I heard the Lord telling me to STOP. I wasn't feeling good and I shouldn't just ignore that. I needed to stop to be aware - not just of my own body but of the presence of the Lord in the midst of this hurt. So I laid on my bed and closed my eyes, and it was in this moment when I was able to hear God, feel His presence, and be reminded of the fruits of His Spirit. 

See, when you accept the Lord there should be transformation. We know this, right? When you accept Christ into your heart, He then resides IN you. Your body is made His temple and the Spirit fills you. So, when you hear Christians describe the love and peace that comes in knowing God it's to this reference of God's residence within them. Now, these fruits of the Spirit are definitely much more than just feelings. Trust me, there are many many times that I do not necessarily feel peace or hope, and I know there are many many times that I do not properly extend love or kindness.

So, it was within my moment of awareness before God that I received the revelation that I do indeed have ALL of the fruits of righteousness. I haven't received them by anything I have done or achieved, but simply because of the unconditional love and grace of Christ who has placed His Spirit inside of ME! Phew. What a thought. So if the Spirit resides in me, and His presence is everlasting that means in every circumstance and despite whatever feeling I DO have:

love - joy - peace - forbearance - kindness - 
goodness - faithfulness - gentleness - and self control. 

Praise the Lord! 

So why do we not always see these qualities in believers if they are there? Why do we fail to represent love at times? Or self-control? If the Spirit resides in us and therefore we have these qualities within us - where are they?! 

I imagine a big ol pit in the ground. In the depths of our hearts is the Spirit and the fruits of righteousness, but we often separate ourselves from the Spirit. We pile on all this dirt - junk like shame, hurt, legalism, perfectionism, so on and so forth that buries the Lord far away from us. Then before you know it, we're wondering where the fruit of the Spirit is in our lives OR even in times when we do remember, we become discouraged - for yes that fulfilling fruit of the Spirit is there - we remember it - but it's dug alllll the way down there, under all that dirt; and frankly we're too tired or even too scared to have to dig through it all. 

So we just ignore it. We see the dirt (being our lack of intimacy with the Lord), and we feel the pain that comes from the dirt...but we just go on with our routines. We go to the gym, make breakfast, read our Bibles, go to work or school, spend time with friends, and go to bed. We let the dirt sit there until one day the dirt starts to take a toll. In our routines marked by self-sufficiency and separation from the Spirit, we forget about the fruit of intimacy that comes with knowing the Lord. Then the Lord, out of His compassion and kindness, sees that there MUST be some kind of trigger to pull His child out of this rut called "routine." Whether that comes in the form of illness, or a break up, or loss of a job, or whatever; we are finally brought to an awareness through this trigger that brings us to realize the presence of the Lord - who offers to walk with us to work through all that dirt, who promises the fruit of that Spirit if we turn our eyes from our numbing routines and re-direct ourselves, instead, to discovering a greater intimacy with the Lord and His Spirit. 

Sometimes, it's that first step - just awareness. Awareness that you HAVE the fruits of the Spirit! No you won't always feel it, no it won't always be evident; but when you are aware that these things DO reside in you:

love - joy - peace - forbearance - kindness - 
goodness - faithfulness - gentleness - and self control.

There is then an eagerness to respond. No, I might not feel peace right now - but you know what, I DO have peace. I may fail every day to practice self control, but I DO have self-control. I will fall short in extending love, kindness, and gentleness to myself and others; but I DO have love and kindness and gentleness. 

I DO have these things, for these are the fruits of the Spirit which reside in ME! I am aware of these fruits and I claim these fruits. I am aware that greater intimacy with the Lord allows me to better respond to these fruits in my life, and for others to see them too; so Lord create a response in me. 

I dare you to practice awareness - to stop placing God in a box or a routine. To extend your prayers past meal times and bed time, and communicate with the Lord throughout the entire day. Be aware of His all-encompassing presence within your daily, menial tasks. Respond to the fruits of the Spirit, for God is yearning for you to experience their sweetness.

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