Growing Spiritual Fruit in a Pandemic Summer
“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
Here at the end of July 2020, life may look a lot different for you and your family this season. I know it does for us. There are no vacation Bible schools, summer camps, or traditional community activities set in stone. Normally, summer for my husband and me is a time that looks a lot different than the school year. We serve in youth ministry, so summer is full of fun events, mission trips, plans, and we always are sure to carve some time out to go on vacation and spend time with family if we can.
This year, though, we’re navigating youth ministry and adjusting to the new needs of the families and students in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re preparing to meet our baby girl in August… also in the midst of a global pandemic. These are uncharted territories, friends. Life looks a lot different.
I’ve been seeking the Lord about how we can walk through this unknown season and look for His goodness in the midst of it. In His grace, He pointed me to Galatians 5.
God reminded me that my main priority during this season should be to cultivate the Spirit’s work inside of me, even though it looks a lot different than I had imagined. There is no season that is too crazy to step into His plan, and there is nothing that I should crave more than His Spirit–this is what makes possible transformation in the unknown. I know that if you’re willing to dive into this with me, He will plant, cultivate, and maybe even grow fresh crops in our lives this summer for the benefit of our families, our communities, and our churches.
Here’s what I want to take a moment to do today. To reflect on each of the fruits of the Spirit and how they pertain to our lives, here and now, in this moment. My hope is that this is an encouragement to you, today.
- Love: There’s a lot of hate happening in the world around us. A lot. It can be discouraging, but it also gives me space to grieve sin and the fall in a very real way. It makes me long to see Jesus in the land of the Living. My Prayer: Jesus, keep us alive, aware, and awake to your outrageous love – even scandalous – love for us in Jesus, for this is the supply we need to love others well. Stun us with your love, liberate us by your love, and may we give the glory to you.
- Joy: I’ve truly realized the importance of having an eternal perspective. As we cling tight to Jesus, abiding daily in our saving relationship with Him, we will experience the fullness of joy He promised (John 15:4-11). I want my heart, my home, and my relationships to echo the gladness and delight that we have free access to through Christ. My Prayer: Grant us a joy that transcends our circumstances and unknowns, our grievances and our doubts, and turns our worries into worship, as we reflect on your character and who you are.
- Peace:The world doesn’t offer much peace. Just open up your social media apps or turn on the news and you’ll see what I mean. We’re reminded in Scripture that the world cannot give it because the world doesn’t know the One who is peace. But for those who have the Spirit of peace within us, the peace of Christ is possible, no matter our circumstances; we can reject the chaos of the world and embrace God’s peace. The book of Philippians tells us how in Philippians 4:4-9. First, choose to rejoice in God and who He is. Second, bring all your worries, fears, and concerns to God in prayer. Third, fill your mind with God’s truth. And fourth, choose to think about the things of God. My Prayer: Father, may your peace trump our anxieties and tame our fears. Grant us a core of peace as we rejoice in you, bring our burdens to You, fill our minds with Your Truth, and reject the chaos of the world.
- Patience: Something I think our generation specifically needs is slow-down from the hurry and the hustle of our fast-paced, want-it-now culture… if we aren’t careful and if we don’t pray for a spirit of patience, it’s so easy to take those desires into our relationships, treating people more like things and less like set-apart creations. My Prayer: God, help us see your heart and hand at work in all the things and people around us, and free us from our controlling, rigid, grumpy ways.
- Kindness and Goodness: Kindness and goodness are closely related because they signify the posture of our hearts and our outward actions toward one another. My Prayer: Lord, help us lead more with your kindness than our rightness. There’s no justification for us ever being curt, rude, or harsh – convict us to repentance when we need it, but remind us that our lives are not defined by our good works. Order our hearts accordingly.
- Faithfulness: To me, being faithful means being trustworthy and reliable, specifically to the Savior who redeemed me. This summer, I hope to grow in submission and obedience to Christ and to the same Spirit who provides me the ability to be faithful. My prayer: Forgive us when we make promises lightly, and/or fail to follow through on our promises and words. We trust that you are faithful and that you will make us more like yourself.
- Gentleness:Oh boy, do I need help with this one! Closely linked to humility, gentleness is grace of the soul. It is not weakness, but instead it is strength under control. For instance, in Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he wrote that the “Lord’s servant” will “correct his opponents with gentleness.” So many times I let the chaos around me and the thoughts whirling around in my head control how I respond. So often words come out of my mouth too quickly and I automatically wish I could suck them back in. I’m thankful for how the Spirit takes time to correct me in these ways – not harshly, but gently. I want to be more like that. My prayer: Gentle our rough edges, edgy words, and quick reactions, God. Grow a non-anxious spirit within us.
- Self-control: Many times, my flesh wants things and desires things that are inherently not good for me – I’m spending time praying that God would foster in me a desire to give my best “yes” to the Spirit and my most confident “no” to my flesh. My prayer: Whether it’s with our eating or speaking, listening or spending, exercising or spiritual disciplines, forgive us when we choose laziness because we confuse it with grace. Help us to be aware of what goes into our minds because of what we hear and see.
Most of all, I’m so thankful that it’s impossible to be too zealous for the Spirit’s fruit; we cannot go “overboard” with wanting to be like Jesus… we can’t try too much. That is freedom. I’m thankful for the words of Philippians 1:6 and pray you would take courage in them with me.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of Jesus Christ.”Philippians 1:6 (ESV)
By Sammie Gallo, Creator of Abundant Life: You Were Made For More