By His Fruits

How often do you feel stressed out, anxious or worried about something or someone? Don’t ask me that questions because my answer may overwhelm you. I am a professional worrier. I’m the classic, “nobody in my house worries about anything because they know I will do all the worrying for them” type of girl. I’ve always been embarrassed to say I am a worrier. It doesn’t speak well of my spirituality, you know? There’s this thing in Matthew 7: 15-21, specially verses 20-21 where Jesus Himself says: “Why by their fruits you shall know them. Not everyone that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven…”

The fruits…they always get me…remember? Galatians 5: 22-23:“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.” I have such a way to go…The Holy Spirit has His work cut out for Him in me, I tell you. The field available in my soul to grow these fruits is not the most fertile… But I must trust that He is able to do what He says He will do. And one of the many wonderful things He has said is:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11: 28-30.

I trust that if I come to Him, He, in turn, comes to my rescue every time my heart fills up with fear and my shoulders break under the heavy yoke of the world. He tells us not to be afraid, we are worth more than sparrows and even they rest in His loving care! (Matthew 10: 31). 

As I look at the fruits of the Spirit, I resolve to intentionally meditate in them. I will look at them from my perspective of a frazzled woman who struggles with anxiety. I will take them one by one and see how they grow. It is not an overnight process. It is a growing process, just like our gardens in the spring and summer. The Gardener of our Souls plants the seeds and it takes a long while to see them sprout. Unlike the seeds that are not conscious of what is happening to them, the growing process in us must be done while we are fully conscious of what is happening. It is an intentional undertaking, and we must stay aware in the procedure. 

I want to catch the Holy Spirit at work in the inner garden of my heart, hard at work growing His fruits in me through every day events in the simplicity of my humble life. The links below will take you into my personal meditations about the Fruits of the Spirit.  And it is my prayer that my words will encourage you to take a look at your soul too, and that you would also embark in your own journey which at times will be silly, and at others piercing, but at all times worth it. I pray you walk with this frazzled woman so together we can see the wonders of our Lord. May the Holy Spirit make our paths straight wherever He may take us.

I invite you to explore the links below if you'd like to walk with me in this path of discovery.  It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit may speak to you in a very direct and unique way as you read these posts.

First Step: An Honest Look At Self
Can Others Recognize us by our Fruits?
Love, The first fruit
Love because He first loved us
Love is...
Love = Sacrifice
The tough things of love
Love conquers all
How Do I Know I Love Jesus
Side by side
For the Joy of the Lord
Joy comes in mourning
Sorrowful yet always rejoicing
He holds our hands even down the water slide
Walking into the lions' den
Never shaken
Peace equals Trust
Faith like Tomatoes
Lily Beauty
There is a "Yes" Waiting at the end of a long line of "No's"
Waiting -on The Lord
The Twin Fruits
He is Faithful
He Who's Been Faithful Before...
Unforgettable Gentleness
A Humble Heart is a Self-Controlled Heart
Why Won't He Calm My Storm?
Honest Tears

This is to my Father's Glory

After taking a detailed view at the Fruits of the Spirit in a, some-what- light-hearted manner, we are probably ready to wrap up. Before we go, however, I would like to share a reflection I wrote a while back as I was studying the book of Daniel through a Beth Moore Bible Study. At that time, I was facing the dilemma of figuring out where to begin pondering all the issues that the author deals with in this fascinating study (BTW, if you ever have a chance to do it, DO IT! : )

In this specific instance, I was considering a phrase Beth Moore had come up with. The phrase was, “thinking little about oneself” and how that was another way of being egocentric. I don't know about you, but I never considered that "thinking little" of myself was another side of self-absorption. At the time, the phrase: "Constantly thinking little of ourselves is still thinking constantly of ourselves," really hit home with me. 

Of course we recognize self-absorption on those who are constantly trying to build images of themselves, trying to look better than anybody else, trying to be superior...however, we, or at least I, never really thought that thinking you are not worthy could also lead to a life where the focus is on ME. 

The "Babylonian motto is still legible under an inferior light: I am, and there is none besides me," can show up in our thoughts as:
"I am ugly, and there is none as ugly as me."
"I am stupid, and there is none as stupid as me."
"I am untalented, and there is none as untalented as me."
"I am unlucky, and there is none as unlucky as me."
"I am pitiful, and there is none as pitiful as me."
"I have the messiest house, and nobody has a house as messy as mine."
"I have the worst behaved kids, and nobody else's kids are as bad as mine."
"I am a sinner, and nobody is as big a sinner as I."
"I have the worst temper, and nobody has as bad a temper as me."
"I am impatient, and nobody is as impatient as me."
etc, etc, etc...the list could be least in my case.

Needless to say, thinking about this has deeply convicted me. Even though I don't consider myself a person who battles with insecurities, I do battle a sense of unworthiness. I struggle with a sense of identity that focuses on the things I do wrong and how little I can do to do them better. I am consumed by the thought of how very little fruits of the Spirit I am producing. My heart sinks every time I fail at demonstrating patience, self control, kindness, gentleness. I want to hide under the pew every time the sermon deals with the need to live a life that is an example of Godliness and Christian womanhood...I can't do it...I have tried, but I have failed again and again. And every time I fail I try to inspect myself and search my soul for what went wrong and to see how I can fix it for the next time...and the next time happens soon thereafter, and there I am again, looking at myself and how bad I am, and the cycle continues without a possibility of breaking it...until now...when I realize the problem is NOT that I failed...the problem is that every time I fail, my eyes shift from Christ to myself. My focus and concentration moves from My Lord to ME...and I become the image that needs worshiped, since I am who is standing with none beside me...since I am the one responsible and I am the one who is going to fix myself...the eye goes to I, rather than staying on the Great I AM.

There is NO WAY I can produce the Fruits of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Gal is not MY is THE SPIRIT's Fruit...It is only the Holy Spirit who can produce these fruits in job is not to produce them, my job is to let the Holy Spirit work in me, like a loving gardener whom, with divine portions of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and LOTS of faithfulness, gentleness and self control works tirelessly in me, weeding, plowing, planting, watering, under a watchful eye until finally, the fruits begin to appear. The key is in the fact that I have to get out of the way...and let the Holy Spirit do His job. I trust that when I begin to disappear from the foreground and move to the background, the Spirit will take control of my life and do His thing in me for HIS glory, not mine. 

After all, like John says in his Gospel, Chapter 15:8,16: 

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples... 

It is all for His glory...we did not choose Him, He chose us. What a humbling truth.

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