My thoughts have been on the fruit of the Spirit lately. These are not just cardboard cutouts of fruit that we learned about in Sunday School, but rather powerful, life altering traits that have the ability to take us where can only dream of going.
Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence talks about the dilemma he faced watching two young men graduate from Harvard at the top of their class. One goes on and climbs the ranks of his industry and does very well for himself. The other, while he has significant resources and a high IQ seems to struggle throughout his career. Goleman pin-points another kind of intelligence that takes people far in life, which he coins "Emotional Intelligence," or their ability to relate with, and care for others. This type of intelligence results in influence and success. What's very interesting, is how much the fruits of the Spirit come to bear in this concept that has become popular in the business world.
I love how the Message version put this passage of the Bible:
"It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid lonliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard - things like affection for others, exhuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with thigns, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Legalism is helpless in bringing this about, it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good - crucified.
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every details of our lives." (Galatians 5:19-26).
Does it even sound like a choice that needs a whole lot of thought? Who wouldn't want to be a friend with, and be around a person who exhibits the latter options? When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, we live the life our hearts are calling us to live. The life we could only dream of living. God loves to work out these things in all areas in our lives, for our good, as we pursue Him.
What areas are you praying God works in your own heart and life on in 2013? Which fruit do you need more of: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, self control?