“…The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Gal. 5:22-23
I remember hearing a story several years ago about a monk who lived a solitary life devoted to prayer and service to the Lord. He had zero interaction with the outside world except for a hand that would pass him food under a door every so often.
This situation troubles me on a few levels. While I trust that his heart was bent on serving the Lord in his solitude and living a life fully devoted to God, I wonder how he could live out a lot of what Jesus asks of us in Scripture. Throw in that I’m an extrovert and the thought of never having interaction with people—like ever—and I start to twitch and sweat.
A lot of what the Bible teaches has to do with people. Yep, people. Like the ones you live with and the ones you work with and the ones you kind of don’t like so much. We learn a great deal about why we need Jesus while living alongside people. People don’t always act the way we want. Feelings and emotions stir up inside of us and we see parts of ourselves that we don’t like so much. We think, “If it weren’t for that person, I’d be doing just fine.”
But here’s the deal: how could we ever learn patience if it weren’t for that friend that requires you to pray before you call her back because she is going through another “crisis” and it’s sucking the life out of you? How could we ever learn gentleness if it weren’t for those times when we have lost it because our child has disobeyed for the 30th time today and our words were harsh and we were convicted? Or perhaps you are learning kindness and patience through a stranger like in Amy’s story.
We grow because the Holy Spirit tells us there is another, better way and He wants us to look more like Jesus. But remember, fruit takes time to grow and He gives us “people-tests,” as my mom endearingly calls them, as a catalyst for change. So although it is hard, God is often up to some great stuff in our lives through those tests. Yes, we can experience joy and love and peace with God on a personal level, but often we learn to love better because of that hard to love person right in front of us. He uses people.
I wonder today if you are experiencing a “people-test” and God is allowing it to develop some fruit in your life. I know you wouldn’t have picked the situation for yourself but God is sovereign. Perhaps He doesn’t want you to miss out on some fruit development. It’s worth mentioning that WE might be the “people-test” for someone else right now. (wink)
Lord, help us to see our relationships as opportunities to grow fruit in our lives—fruit that will last (Jn. 15:16).