Fruit of the Spirit: GOODNESS

WHAT IS GOODNESS:

From reading scripture, we can understand what goodness looks like by understanding the character of God. To me, goodness consists of being righteous and holy. And like the other attributes that we have discussed so far in this series, we can learn a lot about goodness from teachings in the Bible.

GOD’S GOODNESS:

The Book of Psalm speaks multiple times about the characteristics of God. It is a long book of the Bible, but I think it is a great way to get a better understanding of the love God’s people have for Him because of His goodness and righteousness. David gives us many verses that are focused on describing God’s character and even in his times of trouble, he still put his trust and comfort in God.

The Lord tests the righteous, but His soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let Him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His face.” – Psalm 11:5-7

Our God is holy, faithful, and good. He is sovereign and loving through and through. He is just and uses His righteous judgment when needed.

I use to have a difficult time understanding God’s goodness. I had this distorted thinking that God is only good on my good days. You know how you have those days that are just difficult and challenging and nothing seems to be going your way? Or maybe unfortunate events happen with our loved ones and we don’t understand why these tough things are happening?

Even on the hardest of days, God is still good. He is still allowing you to wake up and breathe. He is giving you all the necessities that are required for you to live an abundant life with Him and glorify Him with the purpose He has for you. He is going before you and fighting on your behalf.

God displays His goodness to us, not just by the blessings He gives us but by His righteousness and holiness.

“The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” – Psalm 121:7-8

HOW CAN WE DISPLAY GOODNESS:

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’.” – 1 Peter 1:13-16

Because God is holy and good, we can strive for goodness by learning from His teachings and obeying His Word. Along with the ten commandments, there are many rules that God mentions to us on how to live a holy life.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17

God hates our sins. If we align our hearts with the Spirit, we can learn to walk in a way of seeking repentance and righteousness. This doesn’t mean we won’t ever sin again. We are human, and we are broken. But, it does mean we can focus our attention on God’s righteousness and walk towards His direction. We can aim to seek His will for our lives and not our desires and wants.

HIS WILL BE DONE:

“And He came out and went, as was His custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him. And when He came to the place, He said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation’. And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.” And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly, and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” – Luke 22:39-44

When Jesus knew that the time was coming where He would be sacrificed on the cross for our sins, He was in great distress. But, even though Jesus did not want to endure the painful path set before Him, He still wanted God’s will to be done. Jesus displayed His holiness by setting His attention and focus on the Lord’s will.

Jesus teaches us time and time again that God wants our attention and our hearts. He wants us to be seeking Him and His kingdom first and forevermore. We serve a good and holy God, and even when we fall short and do not think we are worthy enough for the goodness He has for us, He still wants us.

“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

With love,

Claire

Fruit of the Spirit: KINDNESS

THE IMPORTANCE OF KINDNESS:

At the beginning of Genesis, God created Adam and Eve. He placed them together in the Garden of Eden so that they could enjoy each other’s company and gain encouragement from each other. God created us not only to live with Him but to enjoy the community with those around us.

I think kindness is an important aspect that we get to carry into the relationships we have with each other. It allows us to encourage and support one another. I think it also allows us to understand the importance of community and relationships with others.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. – Acts 2:42-47

In Acts 2, we see a picture of what God has in mind for us when it comes to community and fellowship. When Jesus was on earth, He showed kindness in many ways, but the main one that sticks out to me is how He spent time with others.

He wanted people to enjoy each others’ company, whether that was over dinner or in the church. He also healed those around Him that were hurt because these people needed a Savior.

I also love how these verses talk so much about having glad and sincere hearts. Our hearts are very important to us. Mainly because everything flows from the heart. We have to make sure our hearts are aligned with God and His truth for us to be able to share kindness with the company around us.

ACTS OF KINDNESS:

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. – Galatians 5:13

I think there are over a thousand different ways you can be kind to yourself and those around you. But I want to highlight a few important ones that stand out to me.

  1. Love Languages – If you don’t already know what your love language is, take a love language quiz online to find out! I think it is so important for you to know what your love language is but also what your friends’ love languages are as well. It helps you not only to love them better, but it allows them to feel important and valued in the relationship too.
  2. Prayer – Yep, I consider prayer an act of kindness. Taking the time out of your day to ask your friends how you can be praying for them or praying for friends when you think about them are both great ways to be kind. I think it is also important to pray for a kind heart as well. Just like any other fruit of the spirit, we need to ask God to give us a kind heart and for the Holy Spirit to work inside of us so that we can glorify God through our lives.
  3. Speak Truth – We are called to carry each other’s burdens in life. Jesus was the perfect example of how we can build each other up. I think a great way to do so is to remind friends and family members about the Truth of God’s Word. By reminding those around you of the promises of God, the Holy Spirit can guide us in the ways that we can be kind to one another. Supporting and encouraging each other with God’s Truth is a wonderful way to share kindness.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32

God has been so kind to us by sending His Son so that we can have eternal life with Him. We need to be kind to each other as well. If you want to learn more about serving each other with a kind heart, read over the gospels and how Jesus lived His life with those around Him. We get to learn about kindness from the actions and characteristics of the Savior, and through the Holy Spirit, we can share that kindness with others. How incredible.

With love,

Claire

Fruit of the Spirit: PEACE

WE ARE TALKING ABOUT PEACE THIS WEEK! I think we could all use a little peace in our lives right about now, don’t you think?

We live in such a chaotic and uncertain world. Because of this, it leads to us spending a lot of our time and energy on worrying and staying busy. But because of Jesus, we can have peace with us at all times, even when life feels shaky.

WHAT IS PEACE:

To be honest, I think we all have a different meaning of peace. Some might think peace is a sense of being calm or being content. Others might say it is silence, tranquility, or security.

I think when we hear the word “peace”, we also each picture something in our minds. Something that brings us peace, makes us feel calm and provides a sense of comfort. For you, it might be an object or a place. Maybe a memory where you felt at peace.

When I hear the word “peace”, I immediately think of the ocean. The sound of the waves and the view of the water always seems to calm me and gives me comfort. I think the reason I have always pictured the ocean as my “image of peace” is because I tend to reflect on when Jesus was able to calm the storm that appeared to Him and His disciples.

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” – Mark 4:35-41

See, the disciples were not expecting a great storm to come and disrupt them. They were not prepared for the storm. They did not know what to do and they also did not know what was going to happen next. Would the storm sink their boat or would Jesus help them?

Fear and uncertainty can cause us to lose our peace quickly if we are not prepared for those things. It’s like when you get a test for a class and nothing you studied for is even on it. I don’t know about you but that can cause me to freak out real quick.

HOW DO WE FIND PEACE:

I think “finding peace” is something everyone wants to find. But I think we have to understand that peace is not something the world can give us. Not long-lasting peace.

The world can give us temporary happiness and temporary comfort, but the kind of peace you truly desire to find is only found in God alone.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13

Because of Christ, Jesus has given us peace. When you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives inside of you. The Spirit has great power, and because of that power, we can have peace with us at all times. 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. – John 14:27

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:1

However, I think in the world we live in, many things can cause us to lose peace in moments of our lives. Worry, fear, doubt, and frustration can come to the surface, and peace seems very far away in those moments.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

If we continue to keep our minds on who God is and what He wants for us, we can come back to that peace. Sometimes, you might have to ask God for peace. Other times, peace might seem very near to you. Either way, peace is a lot like the other fruits. It can be challenging to have it, but once you do, the Spirit can do incredible things, not only inside of you but also around you.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. – Romans 8:6

LIVING WITH PEACE:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:18

Peace can restore relationships and bring loved ones together. Jesus calls us to live peacefully with one another. Sometimes, this can be difficult, but if we focus on how Jesus lived with the people around Him, it gives you a better sense of how to do so. Jesus also lived with His mindset on the Spirit. Because of that, He was able to not only have peace but become peace.

Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. – 1 Peter 3:11

By turning away from evil and focusing our attention back on God, we can continue to live a life full of peace. Maybe a realistic way to do this is by doing a self-reflection of your life at this very moment. What are the things or who are the people that are helping you grow more in your faith and become more at peace? What are the things or people who are affecting you negatively or turning you away from God and towards sin? Sometimes, those reflections can be painful and require work to change your lifestyle, but they are beneficial. Those self-reflections allow us to be more mindful of our relationship with the Lord and where we want that relationship to be.

This week, I am praying God will bring comfort and peace into whatever situations you might be facing. I pray that you can celebrate the good blessings that God has given you and remember His faithfulness during this season in your life. 

Stay safe,

Claire

Fruit of the Spirit: JOY

There are many people I know who always seem to be so joyful in life. They are the kind of people that you look at, and you just feel better after seeing them. However, most people struggle with living a life full of joy because of the challenges and hardships they might face.

Joy is a difficult topic for me to write about, honestly. Mostly because I struggle to live joyfully every day, and I am still in the process of trying to figure out how to do so. However, I think it is important to know what joy is and how we can find joy.

WHAT IS JOY:

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. – John 16:22-24

Joy is a fruit that is given by God to us through the Holy Spirit. It is one in which we might often have to ask God for. Just as we might struggle to love others and have patience with others, we can struggle to have joy in our lives. But our joy cannot be centered on the circumstances we are in because our life circumstances are not always happy ones. Instead, our joy must be centered on the One who gives us joy.

Joy is more of an outlook on life rather than a feeling. Joy typically comes from us trusting God’s will and being contempt with where He has placed us right now in our life. However, we have to realize that the devil can try and take away our joy from us as well.

HOW CAN OUR JOY BE TAKEN AWAY FROM US:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10

The devil does not want us to be contempt in this life. He doesn’t want us to trust God so easily and because of that, the devil will try and steal our joy from us in life. He uses different tricks and tools so that we do not live a life full of joy, one of those being comparison.

Each one should test his own work. Then he will have reason to boast in himself alone, and not in someone else. For each one should carry his own load. – Galatians 6:4-5

When we start to compare ourselves to those around us, whether that is through comparing our timelines, our accomplishments, or our outside appearance, we start to forget WHO God created each of us to be and WHAT plan God has for each of us.

When we come across those thoughts of comparison, we have to switch our mindset quickly. We have to stop with the comparison and instead, go back to the truth that God has given us. If we start to get into these tracks of comparison often and struggle with changing our mindset, it is important to acknowledge what is triggering you to do so. Maybe, it’s spending too much time on social media or watching movies that make your life look less than what it truly is. Sometimes, we have to limit our eyes and ears to those things of this world and take the time to refocus our attention back to Christ.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10

HOW DO WE CHOOSE TO LIVE WITH JOY:

As I stated previously, joy is a fruit that is given by God through the Holy Spirit. And many times in our life, we have to pray to God and ask Him to give us joy in those difficult seasons where it is hard to find it. We have to also acknowledge that joy and sorrow can coexist in our lives.

In the book of Psalm, David prays to God about the challenges he was facing during his life. While much of Psalm talks about the character and the goodness of God, that doesn’t mean David did not face trials or struggles, like you and me. However, in his struggles, David was able to speak with God about them and continued to praise God for His power and His glory.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. – Psalm 16:9-11

David knew that his joy could only come from God. He knew that nothing on this earth would fill his soul the way God could. And even when he was facing difficult seasons of his life, David kept focusing his heart and his eyes on God. He was able to be in the presence of God and find joy right there.

Jesus also focused His heart on the presence of God when He faced times of sorry. Jesus was a man full of joy and peace, but He also experienced sadness and pain in His life.

Jesus not only endured the cross for us so that we could experience joy in this life, but He also showed us what it is like to live with joy and sorrow at the same time.

There were times where He knew His friends would betray Him, and people would mock Him, but He continued to live a joyful life. He wept with people, and He felt many feelings that we feel. Yet, He was able to still find joy by spending time with God and spending time with a community of believers around Him. Jesus also allows us to experience that joy as well.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

Jesus endured the cross so that our sin would be defeated and that we could eventually spend eternal life joyfully with Him. But we are still able to find joy in this lifetime too. When we start looking to Jesus and putting our trust in Him, we can experience joy during the difficult circumstances we might face. We can continue to be grateful for all the many blessings God has given us, no matter how big or how small.

There will be seasons where it is difficult to find joy in your everyday life. But by remembering that God loves us, gives us everything we need, and has a greater plan for our lives than we could ever imagine, we can continue to experience joy through Him wherever we are.

With love,

Claire