No matter what season you’re in (good, great, not-so-awesome) there will be good days and challenging days. I’ve had some days recently that have felt a bit… off. During worship at church one Tuesday night, I stood there pondering life — as one does — and thought, “Where did I get off track? How do I get back on track?” I felt one of those subtle but unquestionable nudges from God in my heart in answer to those questions. God’s immediate response was for me to go back to the fruit of the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law.” — Gal. 5:22
This verse quickly brought me back to basics. Regarding the challenges that recent days brought up, I could quickly assess:
Had I been loving?
Had I been patient?
Did something rob me of my joy?
Did something rob me of my peace?
If my actions and responses didn’t line up with Scripture, what could I do to remedy that? A tree is know by its fruit (Luke 6:44), so if I’m not cultivating the fruit of the Spirit, what am I even doing with my life? We often find ourselves in places where we ask God to give us patience, or joy, or more faith. But the hard reality is that God provides a path for those things to happen, but walking that path is often completely up to us. For example: Need patience? Be intentional about not losing your cool. Need peace? Be intentional about abiding in the peace He provides. Need joy? Choose it!
In black and white terms, I know this sounds very much like creating your own reality. But it’s not. It’s living with the Spirit and walking by the Spirit (Gal. 5:25). It’s living with discernment. It’s asking in the moment-to-moment, “What does God have to say about XYZ? How does God feel about this thing or that thing?” and living responsively.
Living in response to the Holy Spirit (in other words cultivating the fruit of the Spirit) goes hand-in-hand with the armor of God that Paul wrote about in Eph. 6. This recent season of challenges led me to see for the first time that there are so many parallels between Eph. 6 and Gal. 5. In fact, the two are inseparable. You can’t walk with the Spirit without cultivating the fruit of the Spirit. You can’t cultivate the fruit of the Spirit without putting on the full armor of God. This armor is necessary because “we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, but again principalities and powers” (Eph. 6:12). We must be ready for spiritual warfare.
Are you feeling vulnerable and under attack? “Be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. Put on the full armor of God…” (Eph. 6:10-11). We don’t have to manufacture our own strength. We can be strengthened by his very strength! The way he prescribed for us to do this is to put on his armor.
The Bible tells us numerous times that hearing the truth isn’t enough; it requires action (Matt. 7:24-27, 21:28-32; James 1:22-25). Growing fruit in the natural world means rooting around in the dirt, planting, watering, pruning, waiting, harvesting. It’s messy. It’s a process! It’s the same with spiritual fruit. Putting on a suit of armor in the natural means layering it on, piece by piece, and bearing the weight of it with intention and purpose. Not only that, but holding up a shield and wielding a weapon require action and precision. What good are a protective shield and a sharp weapon is not utilized correctly? It’s the same with the armor of God. It’s a process and it requires intention, action, purpose, and precision.
You may not see a clear picture of the final product at the beginning of the process. But follow the steps, go through the process, go back to the basics, and know that you WILL get back on track and you WILL be the better for it.