Our thanks to Rev'd Ken Blake for his reflections on the "Fruit of the Spirit"
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)
In this time of crisis we all need to develop the fruit of the Spirit in our lives regardless of whether we are believers or not. The fruit is an essential element as we face the fears and struggles of the weeks ahead.
So let us take a brief look at this fruit.
This love is a choice, a way of living that impacts how we go about our daily lives. It has nothing to do with romantic love. It deliberately expresses itself in loving ways and always seeks the welfare of others. This sort of love is dependent on the giver's character, not emotion. In expressing this love in our lives, we would not exercise our own freedom if that action might harm another person in some way. "Stay home, Save Lives."
The Greek word translated as "joy" in Galatians 5 means "gladness and delight" – basically the same thing the world means when it talks about joy. It is a feeling of gladness that can exist in our lives regardless of our circumstances. There are always some elements in our lives that we can delight in.
Fear could be categorized in two ways. There is the peace that exists in the absence of war and violence. Then there is an inner peace that can exist despite what is happening in our lives. The world doesn't offer much peace. Fear destroys peace. Hatred destroys peace. Envy destroys peace. Greed destroys peace, as apparent with panic buying.
Patience (or forbearance)
How often is your patience tried? I am sure many of us will begin to feel increasingly impatient as the weeks go by as we long for life to return to normality. Maybe part of the reason for our impatience is our fast-paced, want-it-now culture. Patient people put up with circumstances and other people, even when severely tried. Patient people display endurance, longsuffering, and perseverance. Patience is definitely something we need lots of in this difficult time.
Kindness and Goodness
The characteristics of "kindness" and "goodness" are closely related. Together they present a picture of the way we act toward others. We have seen many examples of this "goodness in action" in our current circumstances as so many people have been willing to put themselves at risk in performing acts kindness and goodness toward others.
Our thankfulness towards the many key workers whose faithfulness to their work so that the vast majority of us can remain safe, have access to food and health care. We need to remain faithful to our own inner sense of right, decency and morality. We rely on our health workers, food retailers, farmers, truckers and many more who strive to maintain our health care and food supply.
Closely linked to humility, gentleness is grace of the soul. It is not weakness, but instead it is strength under control. Gentleness toward others, being the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest, is also a key ingredient in maintaining unity and peace.
We have seen examples of behaviour that seem at times inexplicable. Perhaps it is born of fear. Perhaps it is born of other characteristics such as hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition and envy. Self-control gives us the strength to say "no" to our own selfish desires. Self-control is a key element in helping us grow the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
We turn to Jesus words sung by many over the years in a worship song:
'I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also
should love one another.' Amen.