I try and show kindness and patience to the random guy checking my tire pressure at Discount Tire, but I pop off at my sister after four seconds of slight annoyance. I try and show gentleness and joy towards the cashier at Fry’s, but then I get upset with Jamie when I feel slighted. I try and show faithfulness and goodness towards my boss at work, but then I slander my brother in Christ.
Here at Wellspring, the college and young adult ministry has been walking through the book of Galatians. As I’ve studied and taught, God has made it clear where I need work, and that is in my interactions with biological family and my family in Christ. I would argue that most of us have an easier and simpler time walking out the fruit of the Spirit with the stranger or non-believer than we do those who we’re intimately involved with in everyday life.
Yet as I’ve looked at the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ passage in Galatians, it’s come to my attention that evidences of the fruit of the Spirit are most clearly demonstrated and seen in our relationships with our biological and faith families.It’s easy to see the non-believer and strive to emulate these Christ-like characteristics in our interactions with them. It is much harder however to live these out in the context of our faith community and our relationships with roommates, siblings, and parents.
Let’s look at the passage.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. – Galatians 5:22-26
This list of God-glorifying characteristics is nestled inside many words that Paul has about the importance of supporting each other as the body of Christ. In verse thirteen of chapter five, Paul tells us to serve one another humbly in love. All throughout chapter six, Paul tells us lots about living in faith community: restore the unrepentant brother or sister who is walking in sin (v. 1), carry each other’s burdens (v. 2), do good to all, but especially those in the family of believers (v. 10).
So yes, while I definitely affirm that exemplifying the fruit of the Spirit to the stranger, the person in need, and the unbeliever is vastly important, I think the greater testament to or litmus test for our heart condition is how we walk out the fruit of the Spirit towards those that we are closest to.
Am I loving, joyful, patient, kind, self-controlled, and good towards my siblings, roommates, and those I’m in deepest community with via the body of Christ?
If you are anything like me, you don’t do this perfectly. If you are anything like me, you have areas you can grow in. So the question becomes, how do we cultivate the fruit of the Spirit?
Prayerfulness. The passage tells us to keep in step with the Spirit, to live by the Spirit. I can do neither of these things outside of prayerfulness.
Treasure Christ, cultivate a deep prayer life. Out of these practices, you will begin to see your heart become more in tune with how you can be living out the character of Christ in the relationships that are the closest to you.
I’ve tried to change my behavior simply by saying ‘hey I’m going to strive to be more loving this week’. While this may work for a moment, it rarely leads to any lasting change. Instead if I treasure Christ, and see in the Scriptures the love that Jesus walked out in all of His relationships, through prayer my heart becomes more aligned with His and I begin to see Christ’s love flowing out of me. The same can be said of any of the other fruit of the Spirit. When we study and see these characteristics personified in Christ, and when we pray that God would align our hearts with His, out of this comes cultivated character and lasting change.
My hope is that I would strive to better pray each day for my heart and actions to be aligned with the heart and character of Christ. Especially in how I treat the family of faith.
In His Name,
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