The house was quiet as I opened my Bible and began to read from Galatians, chapter 5. Words of guidance and wisdom fell upon me. Do not focus on the flesh. Use the fruits of the Spirit. And then the closing sentences: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” (Galatians 5:25). Suddenly, I was stopped. Struck by these words, I read them again. As Christians, we are not called to carry ourselves in a haughty way. We are not called to foster arguments. And we are definitely not called to look at those around us and wish that our lives were more like our neighbors’ and friends’. At a time when parents seem to find themselves frequently drawing battle lines in “Mommy Wars,” and when online anonymous comments offer hate and vitriol, when we spend our money seeking after what we are sure that others have, we may need to glance in a new direction.
There is another way to handle our lives. But can we find that path?
Perhaps the answer is found earlier in that passage. The fruits of the Spirit may be so familiar to us that we skip right over them as we read this passage. But if our focus was on growing those fruit in our lives, perhaps steering clear of common frustrations would be easier.
What would that choice look like today?
- As we raise our children, we can shower them with the same LOVE that God has given to us.
- We can seek true JOY in something that lasts far longer than the newest thing we now desire.
- We can foster PEACE and allow our words to communicate this as our children navigate the crooked paths of adolescence.
- We can choose PATIENCE, even when the choice is hard, and offer our children a listening ear that desires to understand.
- We can be an example of KINDNESS as we go through our day, for those nearest to us and for those who are simply in need.
- We can turn away from the opportunity to be sharp-tongued and offer GOODNESS for goodness’ sake.
- We can sink our toes into the truth found in Scripture and let it fan the fire of FAITHFULNESS for us and our families.
- We can choose to let our responses to one another, and especially to our children, be words of GENTLENESS even when our day has been too long.
- And we can take a breath and use SELF-CONTROL even when (especially when) our emotions are out of control.
All of these gifts are given freely to us, not to be sought but to accept, as presents. These simple fruits are ours already. They bring to us what we need to faithfully live in the way God desires. And as we unwrap each one daily, the things we wish to steer clear of become things we no longer seek. We will find ourselves “in step with the Spirit” in new ways. Being conceited and argumentative and envious will have no room because our life will be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. Our lives will be overflowing with the very things that God desires for us most. And our words, our decisions, our day to day actions, will be impacted in a way that our children will see and emulate.
They will grow up unwrapping these same gifts, following this same path, for many generations to come.
Lord, help our family to be filled with the power of your Holy Spirit. Produce your good fruit in our lives so that our home is a place of blessing to all who enter. In Jesus name amen.