How we find in the Fruit of the Spirit a path to kindness and being better.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)
Many of you may know that I work and play in the personal development space (believe it or not). It is my oft stated mission to take myself and as many others as I can convince, to take a journey to being a better human (that’s my version of better - no judgement). Still, I am the first to admit there is plenty of dodgy and asinine stuff you find along the way in PD.
One thing that annoys is the number of simple lists stuck at every turn, telling us they have all the answers……10 ways to be wonderful, 5 thoughts to a perfect relationship, 6 things that every super parent does daily…etc. These are usually lists of basic ideas, everybody already knows, and they never include any ideas on working out the how, they end up just reminding us of how short we are from the mark!
Instead of clicking on one more list, I wonder if you had realised God was way ahead of the trend and he has put up a really useful Personal Development list of his own. One that came with an extensive HOW TO MANUAL, helping us understand just what we need to do to master the concept. And all the while leaving us with the perfect example of these learnings in action beautifully demonstrated in the life of the real Lord and Master.
Dramatic reveal……You find it in the FRUITS of the SPIRIT. I try to help people develop the everyday skills to navigate some of the challenges of life. And of course, GOD has provided some of the most powerful Personal Development ideas available and offers them as a gift from the Holy Spirit, a no catch, simple to find, available now, completely free, download that all of us can use to become a kinder and better person.
Why do we want to grow kindness? For me as I sit here thinking about how I would like the world to look and what would help make it look that way, I come up with kindness. Jesus was kind, my grandmother was kind, my year 6 teacher was kind…in fact all the people on my very best people list have kindness in their Bio. Kindness is a foundational state from which all good things can flourish so I reckon we should build our kindness muscles and the fruits are just the supplement we need to get huge!
There is so much to unpack in this short but amazing scripture. Let's have a look at why I believe they will be so pivotal in building a better, kinder life.
Starting with the superpower LOVE which is the engine that drives us forward. All human endeavour, human achievement and human collaboration requires love. Love banishes fear, give courage legs and opens hearts and minds. You can't access love without a certain level of sacrifice. True love, a higher form of love that relates to being the highest expression of human, is demonstrated in the acts and words of Jesus who is the definition of true love. This confirms that it is love that connects us to God. It is also love that connects us to God's creation, nature. It is also love that connects us to our community, to our family, to our friends and to beauty and the whole world. Love enables the gifts of sacrifice and care, and it is Love that drives compassion, as well as our desire to be a better person. We start with love today because without it we don’t get to move to joy.
The Second fruit. Is JOY and as a concept this is a much bigger deal than just happiness and much bigger also than gratification. Joy is a soul toucher. Joy is laughing from deep down at a soul level. It is not something you experience in a moment of amusement; it is something that holds you in warmth and care and lets the love out. I like to think of joy as an intense happening, the difference between listening to a joke and laughing or watching a sunrise and glowing. Joy is the carrot for us to embrace better living.
And another carrot, something intrinsic to the search for meaning, is the idea of PEACE. And of course, peace is not just the absence of chaos or violence. Peace is like a soothing, welcome, a covering warmth like sitting in the sun on a glorious spring day or cuddling in a soft blanket on a winter’s night. Having a loved one sleep on your chest. Peace allows us the time and space to become the person we have the potential to be.
However, as a human nothing comes without effort and the fruit that helps us hold on to the dream, while we put that effort in, is PATIENCE. Also know as Longsuffering, which is a grim version, it really provides the fuel to get up after a knock down and try again. To keep going. Regardless of the resistance and the obstacles. The way we learn and gain mastery of anything in life, is to fail and then using the learning, try again. This is impossible without Patience. It's so brilliantly designed to help us on our journey to better.
As is the capacity to be kind. If peace is intrinsic, KINDNESS is the external manifestation of peace. The ability for a person to accept a state of otherness, to hold grace and to acknowledge the spiritual rights and beauty of another human. Care and value are expressed through the application of kindness. In that expression we find the ability to show love to the world. To demonstrate some Christ like qualities and on a very basic level become useful to other human beings and our community. Kindness is taking usefulness to the next level.
And thus, we also require another fruit to be fully expressed, GOODNESS. Goodness is the fine tuning of human behaviour. It is the grease that lubricates our actions so other humans can benefit from our efforts and can feel safety to be themselves. This offers the space through which they can feel valued and inspired and then undertake their own journey towards Jesus. Goodness is a higher-level marketing program for salvation.
And being saved brings us to the fruit that allows us to be true to our privileged status, being on the saved team, FAITHFULNESS. When you mine down into it this fruit it is about allowing someone to keep their commitments. To be loyal and to be truthful. To be committed following a purpose. And to stay on the track with that purpose, regardless of obstacles experienced along the way. What a powerful way to interact with other people. You often hear someone being praised via the statement. He walks his talk. Of course, when we look at that we see a collective expression of faithfulness. A way for our lives to be examples of this true commitment and in being Faithful every day we have terrific practice for the real commitment we make to accept Jesus into our hearts. That’s a pretty cool practice drill!
Another fruit I have lots of benefit from is GENTLENESS, not that I have any mastery of Gentle, but it is a great reminder of how we should approach the world. Gentle is a great way of making less noise and disturbance, a great way of hearing from others and of course being still and being present. Being the still centre of your world allows all that you are, to be seen and all that you give, to be picked up and received. You are fully available to all the fruits when you are gentle. Which of course leads to the final fruit and the final clue in how we access these beautiful gifts.
SELF CONTROL is the act of opening up to what is happening in the world and understanding it from the frame of what others need rather than what is here for me. It is an awareness of how your actions and attitudes impact on the ecology of your space and it is making an intentional decision to modify those actions and attitudes so that your impact is positive and empowering. This is being the grown up in the spiritual room. It is the $1 coin in the slot of the fruits machine, helping us decide to be a great example of all the other characteristics. Through Self Control you enable the people around you to see the spirit in action in you and in them and you help find a path towards being saved.
That feels like a Personal Development program I can really sign up too!