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10 Minutes Peace

    by Susan McGrath

One Fruit at a Time
Date Posted: August 21, 2008

Have you ever heard the "Fruit of the Spirit" song? Until I learned that song a few years ago I had trouble remembering all the fruits, especially in the correct order.

Recently, I started to wonder if they were "in order." I mean, did God inspire them to be listed this way because this is the order in which we should or are better able to cultivate them? Hmm . . .

I know that the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control counter the acts of the sinful nature listed in the verses above; those being sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Although these two lists loosely counter each other one-on-one, I also began thinking about some of the characteristics of the fruit, such as patience and self-control, which are more difficult for me to sprout.

Love seems the obvious beginning because almost all of us know how to love in some fashion. Seeking to love as God loves is our goal, but we have the basic concept down. Joy is a bit more difficult. Deeper and more permanent than happiness, it is the mark of a true Christ-follower. For me, peace cannot come without love and joy in the Lord.

Then we get to the one I stumble over - patience. Being at peace can aid in patience, but is not an assurance of its existence. I've tried to skip over patience a few times and bargain, "Lord, I'll come back to that one, but let me work on growing some other fruit for awhile." He may let me work on the others, but He never fails to include an exercise in patience in that gardening plan.

Kindness seems, to me, another one which comes naturally. But then I think about how I treat my husband at times - times when he may not have lived up to my expectations. (Definitely need to water the kindness plant a little more.)

Goodness doesn't seem that different from kindness, but I think of it as wanting to do the right thing regardless of the inconvenience. This can be tough too, especially when the inconvenience conflicts with my carefully laid plans. This is where faithfulness takes root. If I am working on the goodness aspect, my faithfulness will be to God's will. No matter what. (Pulling some weeds out of that patch.)

Gentleness, again, sounds like kindness, but tastes a bit sweeter as it can deal with adverse situations and frustrating people in a way that steers them in a more positive direction rather than just making them feel good. I consider myself a practiced mediator, but gentleness sometimes grows on the other side of my fence.

Now for the one that keeps dying on me: self-control. I don't think I need to elaborate much with this one. I do think that I need all the other characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit to maintain my self-control, so perhaps listing it last is an encouragement.

Even though we are to be cultivating all nine characteristics simultaneously, there will be days when seeing one or two of them budding will mean spiritual growth.

As Paul reminds us in verse 25, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."

This week during your prayer time, ask God to help you grow the characteristics you struggle with the most. Then prepare for a challenge to help you grow!

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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