This is gonna be a shorter blog simply because it is late Thursday night while I am writing this, and this week has been crazy. I’m sorry for the lack of prep here, but believe me when I say it could not be helped. I still hope you may find something in here worth reading or thinking about.
So let’s start off with a question. If I were to ask you to give me a list of the greatest qualities a Christian should possess, what would you say? Humility? Steadfastness? Compassion? All these would be true. A Christian must have all of these qualities and more if we are going to be good representations of Christ in the world. The list is too long to condense it down to just a few traits. Of course the most common and famous list of Christian qualities comes from Galatians 5:22-23,
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...”
All of these qualities encompass what it means to be a Christian. Without them we are not living in a way that shows Christ. Now obviously, none of us show these qualities perfectly. We all fall, slip up and aren’t patient with each other. We get angry and are selfish. You know, as I look through this list I feel like I’m staring into a mirror of self-realization. They say self-awareness is a good thing, but it doesn’t always feel good in the Christian life. I have found more often that when I practice self-awareness through the Biblical worldview, I don’t come out smelling too good. I see my sin, staring back at me through the glass. I see how it glares and almost smiles as it reminds me of who I was before Christ, and how there are many times I still act like that person. My sinful flesh stares back at me through the glass and taunts me in my sin. I look at the fruit of the Spirit and realize that I am not growing in the ways that I should, nor am I pursuing the attributes of Christ as fervently as I should. That is where self-awareness gets me.
So what do we do? We have this impossible list of attributes that should define a Christian. How do we begin to live in a way that shows we believe in these things? I think the first thing we do is realize they are impossible to accomplish without Christ. He is our source of strength and the one that we turn to if we want to emulate. Christ is the example. He lived these qualities perfectly. He is our model. If you want your life to be defined by these qualities, look to the one that is the perfect example of them all. Second, I believe we should make them a priority in our lives. How are we doing in these areas? Where are we falling short? I think we should be very self-aware of who we are and realize that we are sinful, broken people. Yet that does not mean we do not strive for holiness. We must take these fruits of the Spirit and apply them to our lives. We should work on being more patient, more kind, gracious, gentle and joyful. We need to be honest with ourselves and see where we are falling short. Through Christ’s help, we should strive to apply these truths to our lives. How can we be more gentle or kind with our kids? How can we show more love or patience to our spouse? How can we show self-control in our daily habits or vices? The Christian life is a constant battle against the flesh and a constant putting on of Christ.
Now I realize this can seem like a daunting task. I understand the battle. There are many of these fruits that I am not doing well in. I lack self-control, I become angry at the small things, I need to have more patience and kindness. In fact, I think I will be in a constant battle for these things my entire life, which forces me to rely constantly on Christ. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe the point is that we will always need Christ. We will never master these qualities. We will always need to improve. This is why our entire life is one big battle to rely on Christ rather than ourselves. That is the root of it isn’t it? The flesh will fail and we will fall. We must always look to Christ as our source of strength, hope and life. He makes the battle possible to win. He gives us the ability to live like Him. He gives us the grace we need to get through the day and look more like Him at the end. So remember Christ the rest of this week. Pick one or more of the fruits of the Sprit you want to focus on and pray for Christ to strengthen you to do so this week. Strive to look like Jesus.