“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”
When the pressures of life start to mount, when hard times come, or trouble emerges, how do you respond?
This past weekend my family and I traveled to Northern Wisconsin to enjoy a few summer days with our extended family. As we were making our way home after a few fun-filled days, we hit the dreaded interstate construction back-up on I-35.
Having left several hours ahead of our usual departure time to avoid the worst of the traffic, we were bummed to discover traffic far more closely resembled the tortoise rather then the hare. If hitting a top speed of 20 for over an hour on the interstate wasn’t bad enough, just as we broke through the end of the construction zone, my two-year-old son Jude got carsick – bad. Pulling over at the nearest exit, we proceeded to pull him out, strip the poor little guy down in a gas station parking lot and attack his car seat with a tub of Clorox wipes I keep handy for just such occasions.
Having cleaned Jude and his seat up as best we could, we headed back out on the interstate. Now cruising along at a normal speed, our hopes were rising for a pleasant rest of the trip…but then our little guy got carsick – again. Pulling over at the nearest exit – again – we repeated the same process.
Back on the road and praying Jude would not get sick for a third time, I thought about how our response to life’s less-than-perfect times is truly what defines who we are and what we believe.
Think about it. The true test of who we are does not come in the good times, but in the bad. Whether we are facing minor frustrations like traffic jams, or kiddos getting carsick, or major hurdles like broken relationships, financial setbacks, or other personal struggles – who we really are comes out when we are pressed.
Like grapes in a winepress, when we are pressed to the point of breaking, what is truly inside is what will come out.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”
As believers in Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit living in us, our heart’s desire should be to display the fruit of the Spirit, the evidence of the Spirit living in us, at all times.
The thing about this; however, is that this will not just naturally happen. In our broken world and with our sinful natures this will only happen when we live each and every day in tune with the Spirit. We must permeate our soul with God’s Word so our minds are renewed. We must choose to obey God’s instructions to us on how to live. We need to come before God and ask that He cleanse us of any sin or attitude that prevents Him from filling us with His Spirit. Then, when in the midst of trouble, we can ask the Spirit to help us act and react in a God-honoring way.
What is currently pressing on you? When you consider your response to that specific issue or situation, what has been coming out of you? Has it been the fruit of the Spirit or something else?
If your response to the pressure you have been facing has been less than Spirit-filled, give it to God. Draw near to Him, ask for His forgiveness, and ask Him to fill you with His Spirit so when pressure hits, resemblance of His character is the only thing that comes out of you.
Over this next week, start each day by asking the Spirit to lead and guide you. Read your Bible and pray and just see if what spills out the next time you are pressed doesn’t more closely resemble the Spirit than your sinful nature.