Love - Fruit of the Spirit Episode 2

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22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
— Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

Have you ever wondered why “LOVE” is mentioned first in the fruit of the spirit? Well, we may come up with many reasons and scriptures to support those reasons, such as:

  • Faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13.13

  • The Lord abounds in steadfast love. Exodus 34.6

  • I love the Lord because He hears me. Psalm 116.1

  • Greater love has no man than the one who lays down his life. John 15.13

    or

  • God shows His love by dying for us when we were sinners. Romans 5.8

But I think it might have to do with this verse:

Hate stirs up strife,

but love

covers all offenses.

Proverbs 10.12

You see, to me there is nothing more like God than the willingness to love and forgive offenses. Did you notice the word ‘willingness’? Willingness means we have a choice in the matter. Let that sink in.

Yes, the Holy Spirit in us will develop His fruit in us, but we make choices that may slow or speed up the process. For example, when we choose love, we choose to forgive offenses. It’s amazing how sweeter life is when we choose to love others.

Sometimes that choice comes by choosing not to take offense at things. It’s easy to wear our feelings on our shoulders and get offended by comments or lack of comments from others. I made a decision a long time ago to not be offended by an “assumed” offense.

What I mean by an “assumed” offense is the comment that is not an outright offense. Maybe it’s not outright because the words were okay but the tone or inflection was not. I choose to let that go. Maybe a comment was more abrupt than I would like, but not necessarily an offensive comment. I choose to let it go.

How is that showing love? I’m glad you asked. Love covers all offenses according Proverbs 10.12. When I choose not to be offended, I am choosing to love the other person over the offense.

God is love. He IS love. He doesn’t exemplify love. He IS love. And He lives in the believer through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we HAVE the capacity to love. And we have the choice to demonstrate it or not.

Let’s choose love today and everyday as we grow in the “fruit of the Spirit”!

4 Things Christians Should Start Doing

Photo by Ben White

Photo by Ben White

There are many things we, Christians, should be doing.  But I have four things to challenge you to start doing if you are not already doing them.

  • Have a daily quiet time
  • Practice gratefulness
  • Practice kindness
  • Share the gospel

First, have a daily quiet time with our Lord.  Get alone with Him and pray, read the Bible and take notes on what you learn, and listen to His still small voice and write down what He says to you.  Do this every day, preferably in the morning so you can think about it all day.  You'll be amazed at how your relationship with Him will grow AND how better your day will be, even when things go wrong.

Second, write down at least three reasons you have to be grateful every day; don't repeat the last month's worth. You'll be amazed at what really matters and you may even find your mood lifted as you realize how grateful you truly are.

Third, practice kindness.  This means you have to pay attention to what's going on around you.  Take notice of the ones you're with and find ways you can be kind.  "Please" and "Thank you" are great starting points.

And last, share the gospel.  That's good news about Jesus!  Man, do people ever need to hear that these days!  This doesn't necessarily mean you have to ask someone if they want to be saved right this second, but it does mean to always be ready to give an account of your faith.  You never know what a difference you may make in someone's life by telling them about Jesus and what He means to you.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
— Lamentations 3:22

Wow!  The verse above is a great reason to be grateful.  Wouldn't you say?

Four Things Christians Should Stop Doing

Photo by Sam Xu

Photo by Sam Xu

Have you ever thought about things we, Christians, should NOT be doing?  Most likely, you have. Especially, before becoming a Christian, most of us only thought of things that Christians "can't" do.  

May I remind you that Christians are not perfect people.  We are broken sinners just like everyone else.  The thing that sets us apart is not us, but Christ.  We have accepted His forgiveness and new life in Him.

With that being said, sometimes we fall into the same old traps as before our salvation: 

  • Blame game
  • Fence sitting
  • Focus error
  • Comparison

The Blame Game - it's not my fault.  We know that line all too well, don't we?  We start that thinking when we are just kids and many of us take that same train of thought right into adulthood and right into our Christianity.

The Bible says there is none good, no not one.  That tells me, I am to blame for my sin.  Praise the Lord, Jesus paid the way for my forgiveness and yours, too.  So, fellow believer, stop the blame game.  If there is sin in your life, own up to it, repent of it and move forward in restored fellowship with our Saviour.

Fence Sitting - I won't choose sides because I'll get hurt or hurt someone else either way.    There is no fence sitting in the Kingdom.  The Bible spells out right and wrong.  We are to stand behind Jesus Christ in everything. He fights for us.  Our job is to obediently follow Him.

So believer, remember Who you belong to and align yourself with Him.

Focus Error - staring at our problem makes it bigger.  Often times we forget just how big our Great God is because we've stopped looking at Him and are focused on whatever problem we have going on.

He spoke the world into existence. He breathed life into man.  He is the KING of kings and the LORD of lords.  There is NOthing too difficult for Him.  Believer, focus on Jesus.

Comparison - he/she has a perfect life.  Funny how we compare someone else's best snapshot to our worst thing. We beat ourselves up sometimes by our perceptions of others or vice versa.  Sometimes we "feel" better about ourselves because we compare ourselves to someone we "think" is worse than us.

There is only ONE Standard.  His name is Jesus.  We will never compare to Him.  But He gave us His righteousness when we got saved!  Be thankful for that. Serve Him as best you can in the way He calls you to do so.  He created you to be unique - one of a kind.  So be who God created you to be!  

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
— 2 Corinthians 5:17

Christian, stop playing the blame game.  Stop sitting on the fence - choose a side.  Stop focusing on things other than Jesus.  And, finally, stop comparing yourself to others.

Jesus saved YOU to have a personal relationship with HIM.  Let's get on with that!

Perception

Photo by The Roaming Platypus

Photo by The Roaming Platypus

“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”     -Chuck Swindoll

I don’t know about you, but I have definitely found that saying to be true.

When I started first grade, we had a male French teacher.  I was terrified of him.  He seemed larger than life, had a big nose and lots of black hair, and was tall and loud.  I was mortified to be in his presence.

I would cry and wind up in the office when it came time for French class. So one day my mother came to school for the French class.  She stayed with me and we met the French teacher.  I honestly don’t remember the specifics.  All I know is that after that day, I was no longer afraid of the Frenchman!

What changed?  My perception!  Once I knew my mom was ok with him, I was ok with him. 

Isn’t that true for most things?  Someone ignores you and you get your feelings hurt. They honestly didn’t see you but you perceive they slighted you. 

·         10% what happened- Someone did not acknowledge you.

·         90% how you reacted- You assume they purposefully ignored you so now your feelings are hurt.

No, the Frenchman did nothing to me, but I perceived that he was scary.  So until my perception of him changed, I was fearful.

James 3:17 tell us “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

When we walk in wisdom from our Lord, we are less likely to overreact to the circumstances around us.

We begin to perceive things in a more biblical way:

·         pure,

·         peaceable,

·         gentle,

·         open to reason,

·         full of mercy and good fruits,

·         impartial and sincere.