Have you had enough?
Have you had enough? Are you ready---more than ready, to change your life from suffering the ill-effects of your behaviors? A life of sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasures, worshiping the idols of our culture, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, the feeling that everyone is wrong except your little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, all will cause the most miserable consequences. You may have experienced the results of one or more of the above activities and wished you hadn’t. You may have vowed to yourself “never again” or “what was I thinking”, you may even have lifted your eyes toward Heaven and said to God, “please keep me from sinning!”
I have good news for you!
The source of your dissatisfaction is the Holy Spirit working in you. If you know in your heart that these behaviors are not what you want in life, it is because of the Holy Spirit.
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.” (NLV)
Have you ever read these words and said, “if only…?”
Saint Paul is listing qualities of people following the Holy Spirit, by-products of loving Christ. The “fruit” of the Spirit is love! Isn’t love much more pleasant than hate or even indifference? This love is the love for mankind, encompasses the golden rule, the brotherly love of friends…love is wanting the very best for the other. You can incorporate this into your life by focusing on being second, allowing others to be first. Having no agenda for yourself. Most importantly, it is easier to love when you see each person as a child of God. I guarantee once you become aware of this idea and apply it, you will find such joy as you practice.
That thing we can have no matter the circumstances. It is the outcome of faith and belief, hidden in your heart to flow through your body and your soul. Faced with all the disasters we call life can indeed squash us like an unsuspecting bug. With our faith providing the foundation for the joy of knowing God, the joy we find when we are convinced of Him, we can take on all disasters with joy in our hearts. They cannot come between us and the Joy of God. As Romans 8:28 says, “…all things work together for good for those who love God…”
When was the last time you were at peace? When the waters of life were calm, and your boat was not rocking. Knowing the Holy Spirit is alive and working within you, for your good, can bring that peace that passes understanding. Following the commands of God obliterates fear enabling peace to permeate every fiber of your being and you can rest in the Lord.
The Holy Spirit provides patience and perseverance. Oh, how I need this! What is it about life that causes us to focus on ourselves? To live our lives in the plane of “second place” where we lovingly and willingly prefer someone else be first, frees us from the misery caused by demanding our way, right now. Blood pressure problems would be a thing of the past if we but patiently stand aside and let the other go first. The additional benefit is we have lost no stature in the process.
Doesn’t the world need a bit more of this? As we progress through our lives, aware of these attributes produced as by-products of loving Christ, we can see more and more places to apply kindness over indifference. Being kind means reaching out to positively affect another. When it is easier to ignore a person or worse, act to injure a person, a pain-free, effortless gesture of kindness heals both the other and you.
Our world cries out for goodness! We see it every day in the media. People living their lives doing whatever feels good, but not with concern for others. Our society is full of people raised to believe that their wants are more important than the wants of others. That they must grab the brass ring first because there may not be another. They need to take care of themselves first because no one else will. As I write this, I think maybe I have been a perfect example of this. God wants us to reflect His goodness to everyone we encounter, showing others how to live for the good of others.
It brings one great pleasure knowing friends are faithful to us. It is such an easy attribute to exemplify if you take your relationships seriously. Living a life of “second” makes faithfulness easy, putting the other person's needs before yours. Being faithful means others can count upon you to look out for their best interests, as good friends should.
The world has turned dramatically coarse. Our culture idolizes rude, base, and vulgar communication. It is in every form of entertainment, from television to movies to newly-authored books. The need to shock. Upset. Lost are the ways of gentleness in interacting with each other. Since the theme of life today is power, it seems people have determined it can only be displayed through shocking language and actions. Try gentleness on for a day and experience softer, more malleable, and mutually beneficial interactions with others.
Lastly, my nemesis. You cannot, through your efforts alone, take on the attributes listed above. However, God still wants you to work on your Salvation. God has provided His Counselor in the Holy Spirit to live within us, but my problem always seems to be that I can’t hear Him. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in “The Cost of Discipleship” that following Christ is difficult, but not impossible. Your awareness of your shortcomings is the work of the Holy Spirit and whether-or-not you know it, you are becoming positively affected by Him with each passing day.
So, rejoice and say hallelujah! Every day that you consciously ponder Galatians 5:22-23 internalizes God’s Word and you change, even if you cannot tell. One day you will react in a manner that fits one of the above and you will be amazed at your actions. You will realize that God’s instructions for you, via Saint Paul’s letters, are being carried out even though you didn’t consciously apply them.
As the great Winston Churchill once said, “Never give up!” And, I will add, “Never beat yourself up!” Society works against us, but your desire and your efforts to change your response to society will provide you the path to overcome the evil in your sphere of influence, as it affects you. No matter what is thrown at you, you will respond appropriately, and your Holy self will rejoice.