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Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Spiritual Growth Requires Change

In Galatians 5:22-23 it says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (ESV)

God’s purpose in every change of my life is to make me more like Jesus.

The promise of Romans 8:28 is wonderful: “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT). But it doesn’t make sense until I read the next verse: “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son” (Romans 8:29 NLT).

God doesn’t just want me in his family. He also wants me to develop the family characteristics of a child of God. He wants me to grow spiritually. And my model for maturity is Jesus Christ.

So what is Jesus like? The best picture of Jesus’ character is the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (ESV).

God produces that kind of fruit in me by putting me in situations full of the exact opposite circumstances, where I get a chance to learn and practice these character qualities.

I don’t learn kindness when I’m around the nicest people; I don’t learn contentment when I have everything I want. So when God teaches me how to love, he doesn’t put me around people who are easy to love; he puts me around unlovable people.

Anybody can be happy when everything’s going their way. But God teaches me true joy in the middle of suffering and grief and heartbreak.

It’s easy to be peaceful when there is no struggle in life. When God teaches me peace, he’ll allow chaos and conflict in my life to teach me a peace that passes understanding.

How does God teach me patience? By placing me in a long line at the Department of Motor Vehicles or at a delayed doctor appointment. Anytime I have to wait, God is teaching me patience to make me more like Jesus

Change is not always easy, but the big and small ways I’m growing in spiritual maturity will make it worth it.

The fruit of the Spirit is the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us. The Spirit produces these character traits that are found in the nature of Christ. They are the by-products of Christ's control. I can't obtain them by trying to get them without his help. If I want the fruit of the Spirit to grow in me, I must join my life to his. I must know him, love him, remember him, and imitate him. As a result, I will fulfill the intended purpose of the law, to love God and our neighbors

Which of these qualities do I need the Spirit to produce in me?