I was in church pretty much from the time I was born. I have always loved Scripture and it holds an important place in my life. Some of the Scriptures have stood out in my heart and my life more so than others- Galatians 5:22-23 is one of them.
In this day and time, it can be really difficult to practice the fruits of the Spirit that are mentioned in this Scripture. This society does not teach, nor does it encourage, these behaviors. People are taught that relationships can be thrown away, that people are disposable, and that you shouldn’t have to wait for something that you want.
In this book, I have brought to light practical ways that you can practice these behaviors in your own life each day. At the root of each one of the fruits is putting others before yourself- learning that life is not about being self-centered, but being others-centered.
1. Defining Love.
Love does not mean the warm fuzzies you get when you think of someone special. Love is a purposeful choice to have an attitude of goodwill and devotion to others. When you love, you give of yourself freely and without reservation. You don’t think about whether or not the recipient “deserves” it or not and you don’t expect anything in return.
2. Defining Joy.
Joy doesn’t refer to temporary feelings of happiness, but of gladness that is independent of how good or bad things are in your life. Joy is a supernatural gladness that is given by God that actually reveals itself more when things are difficult. You make the conscious choice to focus not on your circumstances, but on God’s purpose for your life.
3. Defining Peace.
Peace does not mean that your life is absent of troubles, but rather is a calm, tranquility that exists even in the middle of chaos. Peace is a sense of being whole, complete, and content in the knowledge that God is in complete control of what happens in your life.
4. Defining Long-Suffering (Patience).
Long-suffering, or patience, is the ability to deal with the bad things when they happen in your life without feeling that you must lash out or retaliate. When you practice patience, you are taking a step back from the situation and realize that things happen for a reason.
5. Defining Kindness.
Kindness is when you look for ways to meet needs of others, regardless of whether or not they can meet them on their own. You cannot have malice or ill will when you are practicing kindness.
6. Defining Goodness.
Goodness is reflective of the character of God in your life. When you have goodness in you, you desire to see the goodness in others. Sometimes, to see that goodness in others, you must confront or rebuke (just as Jesus did with the money changers in the temple).
7. Defining Faithfulness.
Someone who has faithfulness is one who has integrity. IF you are faithful, others are able to look to you as an example of how to live. A faithful person is one who is able to show true devotion to God and to others.
8. Defining Meekness (Gentleness).
Meekness does not equal weakness. Meekness is now powerlessness. Meekness is simply an attitude that defers to others, offers forgiveness to others, corrects others with kindness, and strives to live a tranquil life.
9. Defining Self-Control.
When you practice self-control, you release your normal, human desires. Instead, you make the decision to allow God to lead your life. You defer the power and control to God and His will for your life, instead of trying to make the outcome what you want it to be.
10. Practice Love- Say “Hello” To Everyone.
One way to learn to be a more loving person is to say “hello” to everyone you meet. Sure, your parents always told you to never talk to strangers, but how else can you meet new people? When you greet others, they see you as a loving, friendly person that they’d enjoy knowing.
11. Practice Love- Go Out Of Your Way To Help Others.
In our busy world, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in “me and my schedule”, however stop and take the time to help others out. If you’re grocery shopping and you see someone struggling to reach something on the shelf or load their car, stop for a moment and help them. They will be so glad you did- and you will be seen as a loving person.
12. Practice Love- Better To Give Than To Receive.
When you receive a gift from a friend or family member, send them a nice thank you note letting them know how much you appreciate and love them. Send friends and family little treats with a bouquet of flowers on special days- or even just because. You will feel so much better when you give rather than be the one who receives all the time.
13. Practice Love- Don’t Just Give & Do, Take Time To Listen.
Being a loving person is so much more than just giving presents and doing things for people. You really need to take the time to listen to what they have to say. If someone is having a bad day, listen to what they are going through and actually sympathize with what they are saying. Let them know how much you love them and that you really do care.
14. Practice Love- Love Everyone!
The world is full of love- share it with others! Tell your friends and family members how much you love them and appreciate them. Be nice to those people who are not-so-nice to others. Show love to your enemies- they hate that!
15. Practice Joy- Smile & Laugh.
Smiling can be an instant mood changer. When you’re smiling, it’s so much easier to be joyous. Try it- next time you are having a bad day, smile and laugh. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your mood changes. Don’t get upset with yourself when you make a mistake or have a setback in your goals- just laugh and move on.
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