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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. – Galatians 5:22-24
The wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. – James 3:17-18
I’ll call her Sally. She was a kind woman. She was a gracious counterbalance to her cut-to-the-chase husband. His manner could sometimes seem harsh. He had an edge. Sally had a soft demeanor. She was thoughtful and sweet. She provided meals when our youngest son was born. She even came over one time and somehow got into our house and cleaned it from one end to the other. Sally epitomized kindness.
This was entirely a matter of the Holy Spirit’s work in her. Even though she had a wit, saying one time, “I was raised in the Christian Church before we got married. I tell everyone that I used to be Christian before I married Paul then I became a Lutheran!” Kind and witty – what a great combination.
Some might think that by this list of the fruit of the Spirit you would meet a Casper Milquetoast kind of person with little personality. A kindly person, easily dismissed. Think, though, of who is writing this! Paul was a strongly self-defined man of God. He gave his life to sharing the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Few would call him Milquetoast. And he identifies the fruit of the Spirit in this way: love, joy peace, patience, kindness… and so on.
I’m thinking Sally might have had her moments of unkindness. I’m not sure I’d think of Paul as a gentle person. But he certainly was led by and filled with the Holy Spirit.
This brings me to the thought that we must all live under grace not law – especially when it comes to the influence and evidence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We don’t often go even through our waking hours with only kindness, patience (don’t forget that commute!), or gentleness in every personal encounter. We’ll never get this all correct and proper day in and day out. Hopefully, on the balance, we will, however, display the evidence and influence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. Hopefully we’ll be more like Sally than the harsh and bitter, impatient, and disturbing folks who might cross our paths on any given day. Sadly there are many.
We’ll never get this perfect, but that is not to excuse an unkind and harsh approach to others. Whenever we fail to see the fruit of the Spirit in our actions or recognize their absence in our hearts we must repent. And thank God for the Holy Spirit who brings us back to Jesus again and again. And to the cross. And to an empty grave. Then to a mountain from which he ascended. And then from heaven’s high throne he sent the Holy Spirit, the counselor, the comforter, the helper who will be with us forever (John 14:16).
Maybe we can be a Sally to someone who needs a touch of God’s love today. That would be great evidence of the presence and influence of the Spirit’s presence in our lives.