Tag Archives: fruit of theSpirit

React or Respond – My Special Education, Lesson # 9

react-respondJon desperately needed a shower and shave. When I went in his room to vacuum and change his sheets, I took his iPad and told him he could have it back after he cleaned himself up.

“Why don’t you do that while I clean in here,” I said with a smile, “then everything about you will be clean and shiny today.”

He scowled at me and left the room.

I busied myself for the next hour picking up a variety of things from the floor: sticks, strings, marbles, batteries, dice and pens, throwing away piles of old paper he’d collected and organizing his DVD and VHS collection back on shelves.

When I went to check on him he was in our bathroom. I’m never thrilled about Jon in the master bath. He gets into all our stuff when he’s in there, but it’s the only bathroom in the house with a tub so we allow it from time to time.

Later that evening I noticed Mike’s electric shaver was missing along with my pearl necklace. I knew Jon had used the shaver since he emerged from our room with his caveman beard missing.

We looked in all the places he might have laid it down and didn’t find it so I knocked on his door.

“Jon, Dad’s shaver is missing and so is my pearl necklace. If you have them would you please set them outside your door? Dad needs his shaver before he leaves for work in the morning. I was going to give back your iPad but we need those things returned first”

He frowned, glared at the floor and when I left the room, threw a small object at the back of the door to emphasize his disapproval of my decision.

In the morning the shaver and the necklace were lying on the hall carpet in front of his door. I thanked him and returned his iPad.

Negotiating with Jon has become a survival skill I have learned over the years. He is slow and often resistant to respond to everything, including directives. The more he’s pushed, the further he retreats, so I need to remain firm, calm and wait him out.

When caring for someone long term, who needs help making good choices but doesn’t want it, choosing which battles to engage is important for sanity’s sake. Some aren’t worth fighting and others are tough to resolve no matter what. Then there are those days I know I won’t have the patience needed, so it’s best to avoid conflict, if possible.

Dealing with difficult people requires a good amount of tongue taming, self control and wisdom and all of us have plenty of opportunity to practice because we all have difficult people in our lives.

How we respond to them is usually more about us then them.

Because we are naturally selfish, anger is often the normal response. Our reaction is usually based, not on what will solve the problem, but how the other person is making us ‘feel’ at the moment.

What we say at such times and just as important, how we say it, reveals who we really are. A response of great character is described in Proverbs 15:1-2 & 4, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly..a gentle tongue is a tree of life..”

Jesus was a master at responding to others instead of reacting. He knew exactly what to say in every situation and confrontation. He also knew when to be quiet and slip away. (John 12:49 “For I have not spoken on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a command as to what I should say and what I should speak.”)

Can we begin to see the difficult folks in our lives as teachers instead of problems, opportunity for personal growth instead of someone to conquer, and a challenge to build strength of character instead of an irritation to curse? It’s certainly not easy to maintain this idea!

As we set our heart on the intentional practice of responding to others with grace, gentle words and quiet confidence, we find God gives us what we need to be changed from the inside out.

And as we pray for help to become less reactive to difficult situations and people, it becomes natural to keep a calmness and peace about us that others notice and desire.

Then we will “Be ready at any time to give a quiet and reverent answer to any man who wants a reason for the hope that you have within you..with gentleness and respect” (I Peter 3:15).

Spirit Fruit Cake

I’ve never tasted a fruit cake I like, but I’ve been thinking about them since my friend’s ten year old daughter, Rachel, had another one of her Heaven dreams. 

(See my earlier post about Rachel here:) http://aplacecalledspecial.blogspot.com/2013/05/heaven-is-here.html

She told her mom they baked a cake in Heaven made out of the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22.  

“.. the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

Rachel said, “It is good for our spirit because it is made out of spirit stuff. It is good for our bodies because it comes from our spirit into our bodies where we need it.”

 Maybe this fruit cake dream is a message and reminder that the fruit of the Spirit, which we tend to think of as individual traits, are connected; intertwined. 

Instead of wondering which one or two we need most, we are meant to see the need for ALL of them. 

So, how do we assimilate these fruit into our daily life? 

What exactly is the recipe for Spirit Fruit Cake?

Hunger (need)

The first step in the recipe is recognizing a need for these attributes; having a hunger to be more like Christ in every area of life and a desire to display His character in every circumstance.

When our stomach is hungry we have an insatiable craving to fill it and go to great measures to ensure our body is fed. 

Without a hunger for sustenance that feeds the spirit, it is doomed to shrivel rather than grow.

Worse yet, we are destined for a constant struggle to be good enough on our own.

I needn’t remind any of us how often that fails.

Mix (add all ingredients)

The New Testament speaks often of being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and walking in the Spirit filled life (Galatians 5:16)

When we receive Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit the seeds of His fruit are planted within us. They are one of His many gifts that help us live the abundant life Jesus promised (John 10:10).

The growth of these fruit depend on our need and use of them. They develop in the watered and fertile soil of a heart surrendered to God.

1 Peter 1: 5-9 instructs us, with diligence, to add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  

This is not a buffet, picking and choosing the fruit we like or wondering which one or two we need most. 

Like any good recipe, one ingredient blends into the next and the full use of one fruit at work in us is hindered without incorporating the others; they cannot come to fruition alone.  

What good is it to be a patient person if we are not kind? Where is gentleness without love? How can we have longsuffering if we don’t possess self control? Is it even possible to have joy without peace? 

Gentleness, kindness, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control interact with one another to create the entire recipe in the Spirit Fruit Cake. 

Not one ingredient can be left out with an expectation for the finished product to turn out right.

Bake (turn up the heat!)

We all face daily situations that present us with opportunity to react in multiple ways. Here is where the trouble waits. 

How will we respond when the choice is callousness or kindness, irritation or patience, strife or peace, rudeness or gentleness?

To feed our body well and keep it healthy we have to make wise food choices. Denying our flesh the convenient route by making a salad, takes more thought and preparation than grabbing a candy bar.

Likewise, our natural response to adverse and annoying inconvenience is usually an unhealthy serving of selfishness and pride. Emotion takes over, words are unleashed and when the deed is done, regret and misery settle in where God’s peace and serenity should live.

If we ask, God meets our practice of these fruit at each situation we face, with unlimited grace and at the exact moment of need. 

Becoming intentionally aware of God’s amazing grace at work in our life, allows us to hold our tongue, curb our anger or see an irritating person from a different perspective. 

Only He can give us insight and discernment into what triggers our flawed reactions.

Developing the Fruit of the Spirit is a lifelong process. The more we practice the easier it becomes to react out of Christ-like love, instead of flesh and out of spiritual discernment rather than human emotion. 

At some point we more consistently respond with gentleness instead of harshness, patience instead of annoyance, gentleness instead of rudeness, joy instead of moodiness.

The Spirit of God takes dominance over self and others are now fed by the nourishing fruit within us.

Not where you want to be yet? Don’t despair, there’s plenty of fruit cake to go around.

 A steady diet of this recipe is recommended. 

And no calorie counting is required.

Colossians 1:9-11 “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask…that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God..”

Colossians 1:27 “Christ in you,the hope of glory.”