“This is ‘kindness day’ so you need to think about the kindness of God, and then look for a way to show kindness.” That was a part of a conversation this last week. After the conversation, I promised I would explain it more in today’s meditation.
It began with an experience many years ago. I was with a missionary who was falsely accused, who had to leave the post they had put their heart into. In the middle of their deep sadness we talked. We talked for hours as we journeyed out of the country. What to do? What was God’s purpose? Where to turn and where to focus when everything they had devoted years of their life was taken away. How to find guidance in God’s Word. I shared a spiritual discipline built around the “the fruit of the Spirit” from Galatians 5:22-23.
We start with one simple question:
There is the outer life, everything happening around you in the world, good and bad. And there is the inner life, the life of the soul, and in that inner life there is you and God. Which of them is the more important? The most basic truth in life is that your connection with God is the most important thing in life. It is where everything else comes from.
Second, no matter what is going on in the world all around you, God is still working within your soul. He is still forming and fashioning you, transforming you in His image and forming what the Bible calls “the mind of Christ” within you. That is a guarantee. It is not a maybe. And it is not a “hope so.” The other things will come, and they will happen in God’s good timing. But for right now God the Holy Spirit is forming within you the fruit of the Spirit. You can be sure of that.
This is important for us when things around seem to be going off the rails. The work of the Spirit within you is a constant. It is something to turn to, to focus your inner self and do so in harmony with the Spirit of God. This is important when everything is going your way. It brings you back to those basic things that need to be down deep in the core of who we are.
Since that conversation, I have turned to that spiritual discipline numerous times; sometimes in the middle of massive struggles; other times to keep focused on God’s blessings and the work of the Kingdom of God. I have counseled others using this. It helps in sorting out a lot of things in life.
Here is the pattern of this discipline. Every day focus on one aspect of “the fruit of the Spirit”. They are: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”. (Galatians 5:22-23) When you focus on those things you know the Holy Spirit is working on and forming in your soul, you cannot miss. Paul said as much, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)
This is how I have practiced it. Match each day of the month to an aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit:
(1) love, (2) joy, (3) peace, (4) patience, (5) kindness, (6) goodness, (7) faithfulness, (8) gentleness, (9) self-control. Each month there are three full cycles and a few days left over: 1-9; 10-18; 19-27; and the remainder. Or, after the 9 th , add the digits (sometimes twice). So the conversation, “This is kindness day …” happened on the 14 th of the month (1+4=5). May 29 th will be “joy day” (2+9=11; 1+1=2).
Here are some starter questions:
- Love day: How does God show His love: to sinners? To the human race? To me? In Christ? And how do I live in the love of Christ?
- Joy day: What is joy? How is that different from happiness? How did Jesus show joy? How will He show joy at the end? How do I keep the joy I have in Jesus? How do I share it?
- Peace day: What does the Bible tell me about peace? How can I bring peace to those in my life?
- Patience day: How has God shown patience toward me? What is God teaching me about patience today?
Today is faithfulness day, the 16 th .
God has been faithful. He has remembered His promises. He has answered our prayers. He has sustained us through trials, and given His blessings every day of our life. Think of the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” (LSB # 809). As the Holy spirit leads me how can I show faithfulness in my life?
Tomorrow is “gentleness day.”
Lord Jesus, work in my heart and soul. Form Your image within me. Help me learn from You the love, joy, peace, and patience. Form my attitudes and lead me in showing kindness, demonstrating goodness, living in faithfulness, and showing gentleness to those around me. By Your Spirit teach me self-control. Where I fall and fail, restore me and renew me in Your will and ways. Amen.