The challenge/ goal is to pick a weekly scripture and ponder it, memorize….etc…. Essentially it is a way to work at scripture mastery in small doses that will add-up over time.
Last week I chose Galatians 5:22-23, and just thought I would share my “ponderizing” on my blog before I move on to a new one for this week.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Firstly, “fruit of” indicates that these are the qualities that result for/ are in those who are led by the Spirit. To me, this is a list of fundamental Christ-like attributes, and thus it makes sense that following promptings from the Spirit would help us to develop characteristics that emulate Christ’s example. When we are open to the Holy Spirit our perspective changes, we face challenges and struggles in different ways, our knowledge and understanding can be expanded, we are more likely to feel a sense of calm, and we tend to be more aware of, and loving towards others. Essentially, following that guidance, and establishing firm anchors….brings out the best qualities in us, and strengthens us to withstand struggles and temptations.
Love– Love is not just a feeling that we have for those who are close to us, but rather a way of living… a light inside of us that we can put into everything we do, and share with everyone. It is giving of ourselves purely to give ( without expecting anything in return).
Joy– I do not think this word is used to describe someone who will always be joyful and not experience hardships…..but rather the opposite. It is the ability to still find gratitude in times where things may seem bleak, and being able to see light within darkness.
Peace–Peace is the result of being calm within. We have peace when we our honest with ourselves, live our truth, and when we have a sense of direction and purpose.The first two help to open us to the guidance of the Spirit, which in turn steers us on the right path. Peace comes when we are able to let go, trust, and let ourselves be led….rather than when we try to force things via our own understanding and desires.
Longsuffering–Patience.That oh-so-difficult-P-word that is likely one of the most difficult things for humans to master, and yet it is often the most crucial element to gaining and achieving the things of greatest worth and value. We tend to want things NOW. We want to grab that food and gobble it up, we want to jump straight into the deep-end of the pool, we want to have our love story, we want to quickly build our dream house……. when in reality? If we eat food without giving it proper time to fully cook, we will get sick. When we jump into anything too fast before we have gained the skills to “swim”….we will drown. If we do not wait for the love story God has intended for us, we could end up miserable with the wrong person. If we rush and build a house quickly… it will not be solidly built, will have missing elements… and likely will crumble. Essentially, patience is at the heart of everything truly worth having. When we are led by the Spirit, and have trust… we will have the peace needed to help us endure the wait, and to resist the temptations that could cause us to stray in the wrong directions.The need to rush and push things does not come from the Spirit, and goes against one of the greatest things we need to learn. Longsuffering/ patience is what is listed as being the fruit of the Spirit…..but, no where in the list does it say willfulness, haste, disobedience, or defiance ( all antonyms of “patience”).
Additionally, patience is not just about waiting for good things to develop and come to us– it also describes the ability to endure difficult things without complaint. It is holding to our truth, and our faith at times when pressure and temptations try to break us, and seek to block out the voice of the Spirit. It is the willingness, and ability to wait out the storm without jumping from the ship.
For me, it brings to mind how we respond to the behavior of children. When a child whines, demands, and keeps asking us over and over for something ( lets say ..a cookie)….do we just hand it to them? No, typically we refrain in order to help teach them that it is not acceptable behavior, and to help build their character and appreciation. If they try to steal a cookie prematurely, we likely withhold giving them any more until they learn and improve. We even test them to try to help them build patience—and see if they are ready for the responsibility of greater things. In reverse…. when a child is patient, polite, and does not try to force, or manipulate what they want….we reward them. We feel proud of them, and are maybe inspired to give them an extra cookie, or even a really big one covered in sprinkles…. due to their willingness to wait without complaint. So patience is a key element in those who are open to the Spirit…and thus, allowing it to guide us towards greater blessings than anything we could achieve through our own means.
Gentleness–Kindness. Being soft, gentle, compassionate…towards others. The ability to be kind even when others are cruel—not letting corruption sink in, and harden our hearts to the plights of others. The Spirit often works through us to help others in need, or to give them messages…so those who are open are likely to be seen as having this kind of quality.
Goodness– Doing what is right. Putting the needs of others before our own. Striving to improve ourselves, learn, and grow into being the best versions of ourselves possible….Using Christ as our core example. Again, its is about maintaining those things despite any battering rams that come to our gates.
Faith—Trust. For me, faith is another word for trust. It is trusting that there is purpose behind things, even if we cannot see it in the present. It is trusting that Heavenly father knows what is best for us…(even if it does not include the things we desire)….it is trusting that we are loved, and watched-over, even when we might feel alone.Trust is what also helps to make us receptive to the Spirit….and in turn, the results that unfold, and the things that eventually connect…. help to build our faith as we step forward and face new challenges.
Meekness–Meekness is not just about being humble. It is about being teachable, and obedient. It is putting aside personal desires, and having self-control in favor of being willing to follow the teachings of the gospel, and promptings from the Spirit. It also is about being patient….which is not surprising, because patience is a theme that connects in so many ways.
Temperance—Self-control. Self-restraint. The ability to resist urgings, desires, temporary pleasures etc….Basically, the things that can lead us astray from teachings, and eternal goals….as well as build-up walls against messages from the Spirit. It is about controlling sexual desires, selfish ambitions, retaliating in anger….anything that weakens us, and pulls us in a direction that does not lead towards God. Temperance is having the ability to withstand the pull and attraction of temporary shiny bait offered in the now, in order to achieve eternal happiness and rewards. It also circles back around to patience—being able to wait for what matters most, no matter the amount of time, or trials that may have to be endured through the process. If we let our desires and cravings take the wheel, it is not likely we will be willing, or able to hear anything that goes against those things that we want—-thus, we become closed to the Spirit, and will face the consequences inherit to straying. So, the ability to control ourselves, and keep larger, more important goals in sight ….also aids in keeping us open, and willing to be led by higher promptings and guidance that will lead us towards what we need most.
“Against such there is no law”–I think this means just what it says.There are no laws against any of the listed qualities. They are all noble attributes that result in goodness and love….self-improvement, compassion to others, and reaching our highest destination. It is a recipe list for the core ingredients needed for living a Christ-centered life, and being receptive to go where the Spirit leads.