Tag Archive | Fruit of the Spirit

Love = Action

 

7e0aef348882e2a320dddea24fca0e31

“If you love Me, keep My commandments”

John 14:15, NKJV

Jesus made it plain about how we are to demonstrate love for Him — through our obedience. A similar mandate was given in the Old Testament with the Deuteronomic covenant. (See Deut. 5:10; 6:5–6; 7:9; 10:12–13; 11:13, 22). The bottom line is that those of us who claim to love God, can’t settle for lip service only. We must act according to His Word.

Whenever our words misalign with our actions, people will always believe what we do rather than what we say. For example, if a man or woman claims to love a spouse and yet habitually commits adultery, his or her love will be questioned. If parents love their children, they don’t intentionally mistreat them or put them in harm’s way. If we love Jesus, we won’t purposely misrepresent Him.

As humans, sometimes our words and actions will contradict one another. We have this thing called flesh that gets in the way of us naturally displaying perfect love. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a situation where you have done something for which you felt horrible because your actions did not align with the core of your values and beliefs, but I sure have. I recall a time in December of 2017 when I completely lost my cool about a customer service issue that I’d been waiting to have resolved since October of that same year. When I say that I lost it, that old flesh that had been crucified with Christ (Gal. 5:24) was resurrected, and honey, it was nothing nice. The call ended with me hanging up because I’d said things to which I could not recover.

It would be easy for me to make excuses for my behavior — 2017 was the year I lost both my mom and favorite aunt, became an empty nester, healing from a broken friendship, etc. I was under a lot of stress, no doubt, but none of that justifies wrong actions. I’m sure the woman with whom I had spoken would have been shocked to know that I’m a firm believer who writes and promotes Christ. That bothered me. I was so disturbed by my own behavior that I ultimately let the issue go without seeking further resolution.

Even our best efforts to live right will fall short (Is. 64:6; Rom. 3:23). It doesn’t mean that we should quit trying. Unlike us, God’s actions and words are always congruent. He promises to forgive us when we fall short (1 John 1:9). While our love for God will not be displayed perfectly, it should compel us to desire and strive to live by the fruit of His Spirit rather than our flesh (Gal. 5:19–23). Yep, we will mess up. #Humanity. Remember, God loves us so much that He won’t leave us in our mess. When we love Him back, we won’t want to stay there either.

Consider any areas in your life where you have settled for living contrary to His way. Now, determine if you love Him enough to turn those areas of your life to Him.

Out of Control

selfcontrol

“Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls,” Proverbs 25:28

This is the first year in decades that I have made what some would call a New Year’s Resolution. In actuality, I made it around November 30 and started December 1. What was it? I decided to give up cookies, cake, and candy for a year. (Officially, candy wasn’t added until January.) The decision came a few days after my mom’s 73rd birthday celebration. We ordered a full sheet cake and had about a fourth of it left over. It was the best cake ever!  For real, no lie! That cake was good. So good that the leftovers didn’t last long. I don’t remember eating it all by myself, but apparently, I did because no one else in my household had any and they were sure to let me know. (I tried convincing them that I sacrificed myself to save them from all the extra calories, but they didn’t quite buy it!)

Embarrassed by my gluttony, I knew something had to change. Furthermore, I started looking through my workout logs and saw the years of sweat and sometimes tears I had invested in physical fitness. Yet, my problem areas were no less a problem because my workouts had only been helping me break even after filling my body with junk. I knew I had to change my habits and not on a future date like after my birthday . . . after Christmas . . . after the New Year. I decided to make the change immediately.

In 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul refers to the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit (NKJV). Though he’s speaking against sexual immorality in that passage, it doesn’t change the fact that we must take care of our bodies in every manner.  Now, let me be clear and say that eating cake isn’t a sin. The reason I took this drastic measure is because I can’t handle the responsibility of eating such things at this time in my life. When it comes to sweets, I don’t seem to understand the concept of moderation. If I did, I wouldn’t have eaten all the cake by myself or — and this is really bad — use a knife to scrape the leftover icing from the box and eat that, too, after the cake was gone. (I know . . . sad!)

Each of us has a different threshold for something. I can’t handle sweets, but yours could be something else. For instance, listening to certain music or watching shows that you know don’t sit well with your spirit. Or, for some people, it could be friendships in which you find yourself doing and saying things that you normally wouldn’t do if you weren’t around a particular individual. Only you and God know what you need to say “no” to. Only you can make the decision as to whether or not you will.

For me, the issue was lack of self-control, which is one of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Experience has taught me that lack of self-control in one area will lead to a lack of self-control in others. While I’m still not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, I understand why people make them. It’s a way for a fresh start. Personally, I don’t like the idea of waiting until January to make necessary changes in one’s life. Sometimes action needs to be taken immediately. If you have become defenseless to something or someone ruling your spirit, don’t wait until next January 1 to make a change. Start now!

downloaddownload