Growing Fruit (of the Spirit) at Home
by Doreen Hanna
Home. Just the word ignites a feeling or two. If all is well, we look forward to arriving home with feelings of comfort and happiness. The thought of soon kicking off your shoes and relaxing for just a few minutes brings a smile, with a sigh of “Ah, that feels so good.” Then there may be the possibility of greeting your spouse with a kiss and hugging your children with your hello. These thoughts just warm your heart.
On the other hand, if a relationship in the home has been marginalized by a misunderstanding or unkind words and it has not been resolved, the feelings of anxiety or anger begin to stir.
The quote “feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are” isn’t my favorite quote. However, the quote might be best said, “feelings aren’t right or wrong until they are acted upon.” Sometimes we choose to let our feelings prompt us to say or do great things. While in other moments, we fail to use the wisdom, knowledge or grace that has been extended to us and we act out of immediate frustration, anger or fear. We’ve all done it and will probably do it again. However, it can lessen with time, accountability and with some simple helps.
A visual aid is a simple help, like a list on the refrigerator for groceries needed…if you don’t forget the list! A long but not forgotten memory was a picture above my grandmother’s kitchen table. It was a bowl of fruit with Galatians 5:22-23 marked below it. Reminders like that, hung in our homes, can assist in preventing our negative feelings from flowing so freely at home, where they so easily do most often.
As I have written about the Fruit of the Spirit recently, I have some fresh perspective on how it nourishes our souls and can help us avoid living just by our feelings. Ponder with me for a moment the Fruit of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” Galatians 5:22-23. Did you note that it doesn’t say fruits? This is because God, through His written word, wanted us to embrace it like one fruit. He wanted us to look at it as a whole on the outside but having a number of parts on the inside.
Take an orange for example. Within the peel it has segments, each having its place to make it a whole orange. With that in mind, let’s take each segment of the Fruit of the Spirit and see what feelings it counters:
Joy – envelopes happiness, delight and enjoyment; counters sadness and discouragement
Peace – brings harmony, it is calm and quiet; counters chaos and madness
Patience – reveals perseverance and fortitude; counters exasperation and intolerance
Kindness – demonstrates compassion and thoughtfulness; counters meanness and callousness
Goodness – points to wholesomeness, virtue and nobility; counters disobedience and willfulness
Faithfulness – calls forth authenticity and truth; counters dishonesty and lack of loyalty
Gentleness – embraces a quiet and gentle nature; counters coarseness and harshness
Self-Control – strengthens discipline and will power; counters indulgence or intemperance
Love – is all encompassing (like the peel). When we love there is no room for any countering feelings.
Good character and wholesome feelings are represented in every one of the segments of the Fruit of the Spirit. Experiencing the Fruit in our lives brings healthy and wonderful feelings. It will be evident in our lives for others to enjoy. And it delights the heart of God as He sees His Fruit growing in us.
Today, may I suggest something practical that may assist in growing the Fruit of the Spirit in your life and those within your family? Place a bowl of fruit where it can be seen frequently in your home. Put a flag or sticker on each different piece of fruit that would remind you of each segment of the Fruit of the Spirit. I can imagine some game playing. Let laughter be some good medicine. Then watch as this small visual aid will allow you to see the Fruit of the Spirit growing in your life and within your family, right at home.
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