The simplicity of the nine characteristics outlined in Galatians 5 might lead the casual reader to overlook the depth and richness contained in the description of a life truly and completely filled with the Holy Spirit.
A full 30 years now since surrendering my life to Christ, I still struggle to consistently display the full set intact in the purity for which it is intended — at least all at the same time.
Still, the security and confidence I have in being a child of the King provide the environment needed to grow in each of the areas.
Making my way to showcase all nine characteristics at the same time all the time seems to be a lifelong journey — a journey dependent on the investment of others in me.
Reflecting on my half century, I can see how God has been faithful to place people in my life to help guide me during specific seasons, which assures me He will continue to do the same going forward.
The thread of mentors may not have known who came before or who would follow but each grabbed the baton on cue and stewarded its delivery to the next runner in the relay — all while balancing his or her own life issues.
From parents and extended family who modeled a fierce love, kindness and goodness to Sunday School teachers, pastors and other church leaders who faithfully pointed me to the true Author of joy and peace, I have been surrounded and influenced by ripe fruit since birth.
The love and gentleness of a dear friend guided me to the foot of the Cross, and the patience of an older mentor instilled the concepts of discipleship and making disciples. Many mentors have taken turns discipling me along the way.
Whether it be a fellow church member, ministry peer or friend, countless believers ahead of me on the journey have reached back time after time to grab my hand and pull me along.
The gentle guidance from mentors noting hazards up ahead, pointing out weaknesses I need to address and challenging me to find a better way keeps me humbly seeking true self discipline.
Finding the proper rhythms for my day and in my overall faith walk isn’t easy with the pressures and demands that seem to grow extra tentacles each morning, but the effort is possible with those willing to show the way.
As I work to cull the withered parts of my heart to make more room for the Holy Spirit to nurture the fruit planted in me, I am reminded to look around for others who might need to borrow my clippers for a time.
Following the model of those who noticed me and sacrificed to help me grow, I am inspired to do the same for others.
The ripple effect makes sense as person after person flourishes from the investment of others and then looks to share the gift rather than hoard it for him- or herself.
Prepped and ready
The hope we have in Christ gives us the courage and strength to not only face each new day, no matter what it brings, but also to seek wisdom and nourishment from the Word in order to nurture our reflection of Him — to brightly, broadly and genuinely broadcast the fruit of the Spirit.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This is an excerpt of a piece I contributed to WMU’s “Because of Hope: Reflections of Faith” book that can be purchased at wmustore.com.