We need the Spirit working through us desperately; if we let Him work here, more miracles, more healing, more excitement, and more proof of Jesus Christ will be shown to the world than in any other way. Paul spent an entire chapter telling the church at Corinth about the most powerful, miraculous Gifts the Spirit could bring to them, but he ended the talk about these Gifts with these most important words: 1 Corinthians 12:31, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.
Paul said we need to focus on the only thing that will last forever in this world—love. In a world that fallen, with people this damaged and dark all around us, walking in the right love and attitude towards others is the hardest thing to do in life, without the Spirit to lead. We often read stats which say Christians and Non-Christians are the same—this is why. Our failure to walk differently, is the biggest indicator of our need for the Spirit at a deeper level in all of our lives.
Paul tells the church in Galatia how God wants to touch others through us; these are the things that are important in this life: Galatians 5:16-25. Many of us find our minds more focused in these areas than we want to admit; there is no way you can keep these mindsets if you are walking in the Spirit because you will have a different focus; an, “Others" focus, in in the Spirit. Does this alone, show how often we are not Spirit led? Take a deep, practical look at what it means to live these traits out in our lives.
1) Peace: Most of us, in our normal state, depend on life having the perfect circumstances before we can have peace in life, thus the reason many never find it all their lives. There will unceasingly be reasons in your life to be sad, hurt, offended, victimized, accomplish more; peace will never come with the right circumstances. Peace will only come through our mindset towards those circumstances; use the circumstance as a means to show love and faith (to God and others), and to always remember all the wonderful blessing you still have at this moment in the midst of the trial. That thankfulness, that purpose above our momentary comfort will bring us the peace of the Spirit in our trials.
2) Patience: Patience is not being provoked in your trials, because you have faith that God is in control and working through your discomfort but is also, having the selfless strength to hold out without shifting all of the focus towards your pain in the midst; keeping a good heart and attitude as you wait and not complaining.
3) Kindness: is about unwarranted, even unexpected consideration and grace. As Christians we should look for opportunities to do unexpected, undeserved, sacrificial good for those around us. It's not about whether they deserve it; it's not about money or time; it's about showing people their worth; it's about relationships.
4) Faithfulness: We all have spurts of, "spiritual excitement" in our lives, where we try to live more righteously, love and forgive, be nicer, pray harder, etc., but we often end up failing when we try to do this in our own strength; we have to draw from the Spirit of God to be consistently faithful in our walk. Our normal mindset lets our decision to keep doing right or good, parallel our level of emotion (happy, frustrated, exasperated). Decide that no one else can be responsible for your actions; stop using others as your excuse to do what you wanted all along. When we walk with the Spirit, we see the need to put what is right above how we feel, and we continue to choose righteousness, to show mercy, forgiveness, loyalty, and love, far beyond what the world would expect, or has deserved, through their actions. Faithfulness is never even debating in your mind whether they have gone too far, whether you will stay, whether they are deserving.
5) Goodness: To really be able to do this, you have to see and love the Nature of God; you have to so appreciate His love and mercy, that you want to be Him for others; that depth of understanding and appreciation only comes from the Spirit.
6) Gentleness: Not weak, but controlled in your authority and power. Placing a person before yourself, any person; respecting them just because they are loved by God, no other credentials. God shows you respect, (not because you’ve deserved it); but because He sees what you can be, not what you are in your sins. Show respect, trust, worth and honor to God's people may just bring something out of them, even they never knew they had. We are usually so worried about being taken advantage of, or looking bad (pride), that we cannot bring ourselves to respect anyone or do anything. The worth you show, against logic may let them glimpse at their worth to God.
7) Self-Control: Luke 6:27-28, 31-33, 35-36. When we are done wrong for no reason—if we are walking in the Spirit rather than in our normal mindset—we will actually be thankful because this person will have given us a big opportunity to draw closer to God, and to reap His rewards in Heaven (these trouble makers are literally putting rewards in your hands when they do you wrong—only if you respond in love and self-control). Continue to treat them well every chance you get, in real care, not in sarcasm or for attention; this is the best possible way to ever show the true love of God, when undeserved; they are so often just hurting, damaged, and scared people, who need real love, when not deserved.
8) Joy: letting the Holy Spirit show you who you really are in Him and finding how things really look, according to His Kingdom; trusting that He is in control, this is for a reason, and we can Glorify Him right where we are.
9) Love: every attribute that we have spoken about in these verses comes only as a direct result of this kind of love, which can only originate from the spirit of God; it's almost as if the other Fruits were simply an expansion of this love. It is Spirit of God showing you the main focus of what is happening in each moment. If you don't happen to agree with someone on an issue, or action, what is most important in God's eyes is the relationship continuing in unity, and that person feeling loved and valued. It is non-negotiable love—knowing all the unfair, ridiculous, even hurtful things done to you, and choosing to love others no matter the cost to you, because you know their worth, and you are committed to them. It doesn't matter if they know better; it doesn't matter if they've done it before. Do you know better than to do what you do sometimes? Have you done it before? Does God still love you and show mercy? Whatever happens, let the Spirit keep your main commitment in focus always; people, relationships, love; over issues—always.
Fruits of the Spirit are so much more powerful than Gifts of the Spirit; they are the real miracle, because we have to go against our very nature to let them work through us. Gifts of the Spirit may enable you to express the Power of God—which may or may not impress others, and can just be explained away if the heart doesn't want to believe; but, the Fruit of the Spirit enables you to express the very Person of God—His real nature of love, forgiveness, care, long suffering—the core of all He is—this is what will turn hearts, break down walls, and show them who they really are in Him. Anything the enemy can throw against us, if we are walking in the Spirit, rather than the natural self, we can still have peace and purpose, and others get to see a real picture of Christ in the trial. The enemy just can't fight the Fruit of the Spirit.
Often, you will see that God is developing one particular Fruit in your life, over others; life situations will directly or indirectly develop certain Fruits; God knows the difficult people/circumstances in your life. No matter who you meet, how they act, what they've been through, there is one primary, God-given need in us all, to know we are treasured, loved, valued, and needed; to know we matter; to know that we are everything to someone. The Fruit of the Spirit allows you to be these things to others; some of whom, may never have felt these things in their lives. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
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