Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Godliness, Fruits of the Spirit and the Christian Woman

It has certainly been awhile since I have posted here. And, nearly a whole month has gone into 2015. It almost seems pointless to talk about 2015 as a ‘new’ year, and reflect on the year just gone. I have enjoyed reading what people as they write about a single word for their focus of 2015. I didn’t set out to make specific resolutions.
I spent time reflecting on the last 12 months, focusing on the areas of growth and what I had learned. There was one word that came to mind, if I wanted to continue seeing growth- discipline. If I am honest, I don’t think I am a disciplined person. When I think of discipline as a Christian woman, I think of the verse in 1 Timothy 4:7, ‘Train yourself for godliness.’ Self-discipline is one key to pursuing godliness.

Wow, truthfully? I don’t know that I am making much effort (if at all) to train myself for godliness. What does that even look like?

A few weeks ago, I picked up a book, Naked Fruit by Elisa Morgan, thinking it was quite appropriate to dig into for growing in godliness. I grew up thinking I was a ‘good’ Christian. I knew many answers about God and the Bible. I always followed the rules and I was nice to people. However, in the past couple of years as I have been maturing as a Christian, I was wrong. I’ve realised knowing the answers, following the rules and being nice isn’t all there is.

What life as a Christian is about, is living like Jesus. Paul describes what this looks like several times in the New Testament. One of my favourite NT books, Galatians, teaches the fruit of the spirit. In 5:16, he says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Walking by the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (the ‘fruit of the spirit’). When I rely on the strength and grace of God, I can work towards growing in godliness.

Sometimes I have been quick to think I bear all the fruit to some degree. However, if I am honest, reflecting on the last year, I spent a lot of time feeling impatient and frustrated with God. I was annoyed because my plans didn’t seem to match up to God’s. No matter how many times I tried to remind myself that “God knows the plans for me,” (Jeremiah 29:11) or that “the heart of man plans his ways but the Lord establishes his steps,” (Proverbs 16:9) I couldn’t understand why God was not meeting my expectations.

There were also countless times I did not act kindly or severely lacked self-control. The biggest reason? I tried to live in my own strength. As much as I thought I was doing okay in the fruit of the Spirit, I now know there is plenty of work to be done in me. Since picking up the book, I am planning to spend a month at a time focusing on each fruit of the spirit and explore more what it looks like to live like Jesus. 

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