I am currently reading a book by Joyce Meyer ... Secrets to Exceptional Living - Transforming Your Life Through the Fruit of the Spirit.
If you became a Christian & were discipled like I was (not very well), you probably thought these 9 traits were gifts that God gives to anyone believing in Him. On the one hand this is true; on the other hand, not so much. God does indeed give these traits to us, but they are given to us ... planted in us ... as seeds.
Everyone knows that when you plant a seed, you don't just throw it in the ground any old time, never give it another thought, & then one day, voila! You've got an apple tree! Seeds need certain conditions for their growth. They need the right temperature. They need good soil. They need the right amount of water & light. When they begin to sprout, they need protection from the harsh rays of the sun. When weeds start to appear around the plants, these weeds need to be removed. The plants might need to be sprayed or dusted with pesticide at times. You might mix some plant food in with the soil around the plants to nourish them. In order for the fruit of the Spirit to grow in our lives, the seeds & the sprouts & the plants need the same sort of diligent attention as earthly fruit, flowers, & vegetables.
I don't know about you, but I want to be a person who shows God's love to others. I want joy & peace in my life. I want to be patient. I want to be kind & good & faithful. I want to be gentle. I want to have self-control. However, wanting these traits does not mean they are going to develop in my life on their own. They are planted inside of me. They are planted inside all of us who are Christians. We just need to nourish them in order for them to grow.
How do we nourish the fruit of the Spirit so it will grow in our lives? Joyce says "The fruit of the Spirit is not about how we feel, but about what we choose to do." Our love grows when we purposely show love to a family member who seems to be on a mission in life to annoy us. Our kindness & patience grow when we are kind & patient with a new salesclerk who is a bit slow & confused about the job. Our joy grows when we deliberately choose to be joyful in the midst of trying circumstances rather than wallow in self-pity. Our faithfulness grows when we keep a promise we made to a friend last week to do something for her today, & we follow through with that promise despite the fact that we just don't feel like doing it today.
Joyce says that of the 9 fruit listed in this passage, love & self-control are the bookends. We cannot develop any of the other fruit without first developing love (wanting to be joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, & gentle) & self-control (choosing to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, & gentle ... despite how we feel).
I encourage you to do a study of the fruit of the Spirit & to commit to develop the fruit in your life : )
Have a very blessed Sunday!