“Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control…”
Before we self-score ourselves against this list, we need to realize these are the fruit of HIS Spirit IN us, not what we can merely do on our own on a good day when ‘everything is going our way.’
Depending on our individual temperament, some people may naturally do better with some of these then others, but the definitions of these characteristics are The Lord Himself, not any of us.
How should this list be defined then?
Let’s look at the first aspect: “Love.”
For example we may say “we love Starbucks, so we can check the love box” but that is not the same as the love of Christ who laid down His life on a cross to pay for the sins of multitudes of people who will go to their graves not caring about what he did for them.
God’s love is sacrificial without conditions. His love endures all things.
Can we have the level of His love all the time on our own without Him?
When all nine of these are defined by the way Jesus lived, we ALL fall extremely short on our own in all categories.
That being said, having The Fruit of His Spirit in our lives is not something to worry about, but to surrender to!
An apple tree doesn’t ‘sweat fruit!’ Apples are going to grow because ‘apples are what apple trees produce.’
Similarly, the Spirit-yielded Believer doesn’t need to ‘sweat’ whether this fruit will grow either… because this is the fruit of the Spirit’s working THROUGH their humble contrite heart.
In other words the fruit of His character will grow through us as “abide in the vine” …and we will yield much fruit! (John15)
Let’s very briefly consider the other aspects of the list:
“Joy” – We know “The Joy of the Lord is our strength,” and Jesus specifically prayed His Joy would dwell in us and our joy would be overflowing! (John 15:11, 16:24)
“Patience” – also translated “long-suffering.” Think about Jesus’ patience with the disciple’s meanderings and how He walked out the plan for His life in God’s perfect timing.
How often in conversation did he exhibit supreme patience until all was fulfilled?
Like Paul, we may say that we were “shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience.”
The proof of His patience with me, is that He wants to show His patience through me!
“Kindness” – The Bible is full of 50+ use of the word ‘kindness’ to reflect on amazing acts of grace to reduce the burdens of others!
Above almost anything else I can think of, Jesus was indeed the model of kindness by how he interacted with people and they loved Him for it!
The fact that today He still wants to reveal His kindness in miraculous tangible ways-through us- that makes others love Him is reason enough to serve Him with all our strength!
“Goodness” – The very word good was an accolade reserved for God Himself!
“There is no good but God!”
How amazing that we serve a God whose goodness is greater than we can measure!
How amazing that you and I can have a fresh goodness flow from us that is greater than we could ever do on our own!
“Faithfulness” – Did you know it’s easier to be faithful, when you are full of faith?
And Jesus is not only the author, but the finisher of our faith!
We may know “He will never leave us, nor forsake us” but how incredible is it that His faithfulness wants to remain faithful THROUGH us to the other people in our lives!
“Gentleness” – Gentleness is meekness, not weakness!
It is incredibly-constrained strength that is careful to touch, but not wound in any way.
We have all wounded others with our words and actions, how amazing is it that HIS Gentleness can be flow through us in a way that can be 100% helpful and never hurtful!
Like Paul, we can exhort others “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor 10:1)
“Self-Control” – The very term reveals the conflict between ourselves and who we really are in Christ.
We have tried to ‘control ourselves’ in vain so many times, but it’s the grace of God IN us that actually has the power we have been longing for!
That is what we need to flow through us in a very real way!…
“The grace of God has appeared…and teaches us how to resist ungodliness, worldly passions and to live self-controlled upright lives in this present age…” (Titus 2:11).
So ALL THIS is “What Grown Up Looks Like?”
His Spirit not just saving us from hell someday in the afterlife, but saving us from the limitations of ourselves in the here and now… in a way that reveals and glorifies Him!!
All That and MORE…
As His Spirit flows through us, our heart and mind begin to literally conform more to His.
That’s where real growth happens as we literally conform more and more to His Image!
Where it may have been challenging at first to learn to yield to His Spirit in us-when our flesh is raging in us as well…
Over time, the conflict dissolves as we are transformed and start flowing in the rhythms of HIS GRACE!
The things that move Him start moving us as we find ourselves start loving what He loves!
We find ourselves in a holy momentum ever-towards the Lord, a loving connection from the heart of God Himself….
That the gravity of this fallen world no longer has any hold on!
“and we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s Glory, are being transformed INTO HIS IMAGE with ever-increasing Glory, which comes from The Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:18)
JESUS IN US!…THAT’S WHAT GROWN UP LOOKS LIKE!!