Lately, life has been a little bit stressful. We have been working on some major projects, like getting our house ready to sell and sorting and packing years and years of stuff; and we have also been trying to maintain the day-to-day tasks of running a home with six children while keeping it all clean and organized so we can sell it. We have also traveled a little bit and we’ve done a little public speaking. Oh, yeah, and we’re homeschooling four children. I’m a little tired just typing it all out.
One day last week, the stress overwhelmed us. I had slept late, so I skipped my alone-time with God. We had a couple major things to work on that day, and our children were not exactly cooperating. Then my husband and I didn’t see eye-to-eye about something, and neither of us approached the situation with grace or love. By mid-afternoon, we were all, every one of us, behaving pretty horribly.
Late in the afternoon, I was taking meat out of the freezer for dinner when I noticed that some of my magnets had disappeared from the fridge. I have these simple, small, rectangular magnets on my fridge, each with a characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit printed on. LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, and SELF-CONTROL. Each one on a pink or purple or red rectangle stuck to my fridge.
Except as I pulled the hot dogs from the freezer, most of the magnets were missing. I called out, “Who knows where the rest of the Fruit of the Spirit magnets are?”
My daughters came running. “Rachel knows where they are!” Lauren declared.
Then, with a quiet grin on her face, Rachel pulls LOVE, PATIENCE, PEACE, SELF-CONTROL, GENTLENESS, and KINDNESS out from under the church calendar posted on the fridge. With a sly smile, she lined them up where I always keep them.
“Ask her why they were hidden,” Lauren prompted.
Rachel silently shrugged.
Again, Lauren stirred the pot. “No, ask her.”
I took the bait. “Rachel, why were these magnets under that calendar?”
“Earlier today, when we were all acting so badly, I started taking away the magnets we weren’t showing. So I took away love and kindness because none of us were loving or being kind. And so that’s why they were hidden.”
OUCH!! The fruit of the Spirit wasn’t displayed in my actions that day. If it were so obvious to an 8 year old, it should have been painfully obvious to me. I was being controlled by Jennifer, not by the Holy Spirit.
All of that fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — all of it, the whole fruit (singular) is in me somewhere. I belong to God and His Holy Spirit lives within me. So the Spirit’s fruit is in me. When I am controlled by the Holy Spirit, His fruit will be evidenced in my behavior, in my attitude, in my words. But, on days like that day, when I have failed to ask Him to fill me and control me, the only fruit evidenced in me is the fruit of my flesh — hatred, discord, impatience, selfishness, impurity, faithlessness, harshness, and free reign for my emotions. Yuck!
Father, please fill me with Your Spirit, so that Your character overflows from me. Please help me decrease so that You might increase. Oh, and please let those magnets be a constant reminder of my need for You to control me so that I can bear Your fruit. Amen.