The gifts of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 are the result of our transformation from being attached to the world to an attachment to God with a great love for God in our lives. These gifts result from our following the Indwelling Spirit of God wherever He would lead us. First, we allow God to highlight our suffering and sins. Then we ask for his healing and love and forgiveness, so that we become the people that He has created us to be. For we are to live in love most of all, joy and peace and to respond to the world with patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It takes time and a lot of healing by God for these gifts to emerge in us and to become the bulk of what we express in the world.
To live in love is to focus our attention on God with gratitude for how well He provides for us. It means to learn to love ourselves as He loves and forgives us. It means to love our neighbor, our enemy, everyone as we love ourselves—without judgment and with forgiveness and love and understanding. To live in love means to express God’s love in all that we do.
To live in joy means that we have opened our eyes to the glories of His creation, that we are fed by the beauty of this world and all the plants and animals it contains, on whom we depend for sustenance and variety in this interdependent world. It means that we live in gratitude for all that God has given us, that all our needs are being filled, not just physical needs, but spiritual ones, too. It means that we embrace the blessings daily that He is giving us. To live in joy, as a result of living in God’s presence., we can see all that God is doing in our lives.
To live in peace means that we must trust God’s will in everything. We must surrender to what happens in our lives, no matter whether we like it or not. We must believe in and trust God’s promises that He will be with us, that He will answer our prayers, that He is all about love and forgiveness. And we have to trust him in everything. That takes a lot of time and healing and experience of God’s presence in our lives. When we focus our lives on Him, we can see what He is doing now and always. We live in peace, no matter what happens.
The next six gifts of the Spirit describe how we live in God’s kingdom on this earth with peace, joy and love, the virtues of Jesus Christ now actualized within us.
To be patient means that we don’t put any unnatural restrictions or hurry things up or try to bend people or circumstances to our will.
To be good, means that we are obedient to God’s laws, that we don’t live in fear of anything or anger at anyone else, that we don’t project our sins onto others, that we don’t judge others. Our words and actions in this world do no harm to anyone, but actually bless them in ways that we’ll be totally unaware of.
To be kind is to treat everyone the same, with love, no matter who they are and what they have done.
To be faithful means that our love for other human beings and His whole creation is an ongoing flow from God, never abandoned, always true to how Jesus described Him: “He sends his sun to shine and his rain to fall on the evil and the good.” [Matt 5:45]
To be gentle is to make the truth an offering, a gift without any force at all.
To be self-controlled means to be humble, to not set oneself above any other, to not have the ego operating at all.
I am pretty sure that we human beings are not perfect in all these qualities during our lifetime, but these gifts of the Spirit expressed in all that we do will be the evidence of our love of God. The promise for the next life in heaven is to rest in these qualities forever.
Questions to ponder over the week: Is there God’s love in my heart? Am I at peace? Do I feel a lot of joy? And how do I treat everyone else? With judgment or goodness, kindness and gentleness? Am I faithful to God? Am I humble?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who share God’s love and peace and joy with the world. May we treat everyone with goodness, kindness, gentleness, and humility and faithfully serve our Lord.
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Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts every month. 8.19.20s is on the same topic, a slightly different take, entitled, “The Fruit of the Spirit.”