If I could guarantee you a major transformation for good in your life, simply by putting a plan into place, would you be willing to give it a try? I’ve put together a simple plan to help you focus on the nine evidences that our lives are controlled by God’s Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit as given in Galatians 5. You just work on one fruit at a time, and by God’s grace, you will see this transformation in your life.
The nine fruits of the Spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful, gentleness and self-controlled.
We begin with number five on that list–kindness.
#5 – Kindness
What does it look like? It looks like common courtesies, like “thank you” and “please.” It looks like allowing someone to get in line in front of you, or letting a car into the line of traffic in front of you. Kindness is saying words that bring encouragement and comfort. It is taking time to help an elderly person, or give a child a cheery greeting. Kindness may simply be a smile on your face, a friendly hello, a listening ear. Whatever form it takes, we all know and love kindness when we see it, don’t we?
Since kindness seems to be in short supply all too often, when we display this fruit of God’s Spirit, it makes an impact. We need to be very kind people. If you’re like me, you have to sometimes remind yourself to show kindness, because you get so carried away with your own busy schedule, that you just forget. So, let’s become intentional about being kind.
Begin by praying specifically that God will give you a kind heart and a kind tongue toward all the people in your life for each day. This includes the people you know, as well as the strangers you meet throughout the day, the small interactions you have with various people all through your day, by phone, on line, and in person.
Set a goal to do at least one kind thing for someone every day. Then, all through your day look for those opportunities. Let’s say your co-worker is swamped with a heavy workload. So, you offer to stay an extra hour and help her. Or perhaps someone has car trouble, and you go out of your way to give him a lift or jumpstart his battery. When you and I go out of our way to be kind, even in the very small things, it not only makes an impact on those to whom we are kind, it comes back to us in many ways.
Proverbs 11:17 says that a kind person benefits himself. We reap what we sow, and when we sow kindness, it does indeed benefit us, too.
Next is goodness. But what is it, and how do we display it?
#6 – Goodness
We often say “God is good all the time,” but what do we mean by that? Do we mean that God does what I want him to do and answers all my prayers the way I want them answered? Do we mean that God pours blessings on us and therefore he is good?
Good means virtuous, righteous, morally excellent. And of course, God is good all the time. As you focus on being good, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to try to make everyone happy with you or jump through everyone’s hoops. It means, rather, that you are going to focus on being virtuous, righteous and morally excellent.
Let’s think of things that are not good:
- Criticizing with a judgmental attitude
- Griping and complaining
- Indulging in sexual impurities
- Allowing impure thoughts
None of these are virtuous, righteous or morally excellent—none are good.
Second Peter 1:5 says: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge.” The very reason that Peter referred to this was the fact that Jesus’ divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. And he has given us great and precious promises so that we can participate in the divine nature. Because of this, Peter writes, add goodness to your faith.
We may need to dig deep into our hearts to root out those things that are not good. We are to add to our faith goodness; that takes effort and focus. It might mean we have to change our television viewing habits, throw away some magazines or novels, stop our bad habits of gossiping or complaining, make sure we’re always telling the truth. It means we don’t exaggerate to make ourselves look better, we don’t cheat our company out of one penny.
Let me ask you, did you wake up this morning and wonder if God still cares for you? Do you ever worry whether or not God will keep his promises? Most of us take for granted that our God is faithful. I love Carol Cymbala’s song about God’s faithfulness. Some of the words are:
When my strength was all gone
When my heart had no song
Still in love he’s proved faithful to me
He’s been faithful, faithful to me
Looking back his love and mercy I see
Though in my heart I have questioned
Even failed to believe
Still he’s been faithful, faithful to me
Yes, indeed, we take great comfort in God’s faithfulness to us, but we also need to make sure that this trait is evident in our own lives. Faithfulness is the seventh aspect of the fruit of the Spirit, as given to us in Galatians 5.
#7 – Faithfulness
First Corinthians 4:2 says: “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” Paul wrote to Timothy: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service” (1 Timothy 1:12).
I would love to be considered faithful by the Lord, wouldn’t you? We can only be of service to God if we are faithful people. You’ve heard it said that the best ability is dependability. That’s another word for faithful. Do you have a reputation for being dependable? Are you known as a faithful person, thorough in the performance of your duties? Do you always keep your promises? Is your word your bond?
Remember it’s better to under promise and over deliver than to over promise and under deliver. Promise sparingly and then keep your promises no matter what!
The next evidence of the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness:
#8 – Gentleness
I’m always overwhelmed with the amazing gentleness of Jesus Christ. He described himself as “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Peter tells us that our beauty should not come from outward adornment. “Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4).
Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Galatians 6:1 says that “. . . if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” Gentleness solves arguments, halts anger, and restores someone who has sinned.
I remember talking with a man who was coming out of a very long, serious illness. He was back at church, and I was telling him how good it was to see him. Someone else walked up, asked how he was and said, “You have really aged!” Gentle words? No! Thoughtless words.
Do you have harsh attitudes toward people? I love this quote from Dairy of Private Prayers: “May I be willing to make the same excuses for others that I make for myself.” Are you quick to criticize and judge? The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness, just like Jesus.
Practice the golden rule; really concentrate on it. When you start to become irritated with someone or criticize them in some way, stop and say, “What would I be like if I were in their shoes?” Or, “If I didn’t know Jesus as my Savior, I’d probably do the same thing.” That will help you to be gentle.
In a world full of self words—like self-esteem, self-confidence, self-actualization—you will find only one such word in the Bible, and that is self-control. And this is the last evidence listed in Galatians 5.
#9 – Self-Control
Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a person who lacks self-control.” In Bible times cities had to have walls to protect them from enemies. When those walls were broken down, anything and anybody could get in, to plunder, to kill, to destroy. And so it is with us when we lack self-control. We open ourselves up to destruction.
Look at your own life right now and ask yourself where your walls are broken down because of your unwillingness to exercise self-control. Even if the walls are only broken in one spot, the enemy will find that spot, wherever it is, and he will invade you and try to destroy you at that point. We need to build up our walls of self-control so that we are not vulnerable to Satan’s attacks.
Choose the one area where you feel you most lack self-control; then go to God’s Word for some relevant verses. Write those verses on separate cards; pray them each morning. For example, if laziness is your problem, you can pray Hebrews 6:11-12: “Lord, I know you don’t want me to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised and to show diligence to the very end.” There’s a verse in the Bible that is relevant to any area out of control in your life; you just need to look for it!
We’ve taken a close look at each of the nine characteristics that should be evident in the life of every true Christ-follower. I know, for me, some are stronger than others, but I need to work on all of them. “Growing Spiritually” is a booklet that I want to offer to you because I believe it will help you as it has helped me. You can download the booklet here.
I remind you that the Apostle Paul said there is no law against this fruit—they are not going to offend people, but rather they will conform you to the image of Jesus Christ more and more, and that will benefit everyone in your life—mostly you!