“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” (Galatians 5:22-23).
We all know that verse from Galatians, but what does it really mean? What does it look like to be a person who exhibits these traits on a daily basis? Here are several practical ways to “be the fruit” and live a life that’s pleasing to God.
Temperance means self-control. We have so many ways in our lives that we can exercise restraint. For example, try to not complain for one whole day. Every time something happens that irritates you, practice temperance and hold your tongue. As you stop focusing on negativity, you will see everything around you in a positive light.
Meekness often gets mixed up with weakness, but in actuality, meek people are just humble. Try a dose of humility the next time you’re in an argument. When you feel that urge to point out someone else’s flaws, take a break. Try looking at the situation from the other person’s point of view. Stop insisting and start listening. You’ll find a cure for strife when you put on a spirit of meekness.
Extend your faith beyond just a simple knowledge of Jesus Christ. Believe the promises of God in the face of extreme difficulties. When things don’t go right, go to the Bible and “know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.
Then, don’t just believe it, but ask yourself, “How differently would I react if I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was true?” Watch your faith take shape in your words and your behavior.
We can be so quick to assume the worst, but remember this: good things can and do happen at any time! Be on the lookout for miracles. Share stories about answered prayers. Marvel at something pretty, like a flower. When you look out for the good things in life, you’ll see Psalm 23:6 come alive as goodness follows you everywhere you go.
Harsh criticisms and judgments can hurt. Proverbs 15:1 reads, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” If Christians are called to heal, then it begins with speaking to and treating others gently. The next time you have to give bad news or confront a friend about a problem, as Ephesians 4:15 says, “Remember to speak the truth in love.”
Oh, patience…this particular fruit of the Spirit offers plenty of opportunities throughout the day to exercise. Patience takes practice, and it may seem overwhelming to be patient all the time. So, until you get the hang of it, pick one particular daily situation where you can work patience in. For example, maybe it’s toughest for you to be patient while driving. Let morning rush hour be your training ground. Be kind to bad or slow drivers. Don’t yell or curse when you can’t get into the lane you need to. Keep at it until you see a difference in the way you drive and how you feel when you step out of the car.
There is a river of peace that flows inside of you when you get still long enough to feel it. Every day, carve out five minutes of silence. Perhaps it’s first thing in the morning, or that small window of time before the kids get home from school. Put the phone away and close the laptop. Sit somewhere without any distractions and focus on your breathing. It may take time for your mind to stop racing, but once it does, you will be at peace throughout your entire body.
Get happy deep down in your soul. Find a moment every day to laugh. When’s the last time you had one of those hearty laughs that comes from your belly? Listen to some stand-up comedy, or get your friends together and reminisce over some funny stories. Let humor be a part of your daily life.
Don’t settle for a “Facebook” version of friendship. True love needs a personal touch. Here’s a way to show people you love them in an unexpected way. Get a package of blank greeting cards and make a list of friends and family (especially the ones you don’t see often). Write them a short note that shares how much you appreciate them. Send your cards out at random (far away from any holidays or a birthday) and let the little love note surprise them!
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