“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. ”
Galations 5:22-23

If these qualities characterized every person, the world would be a much better place, would it not? This was God’s original intent for mankind.

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God is promised to each and every follower of Jesus. The purpose of that indwelling is to transform us into the likeness of Christ Himself. The fruit of the Spirit listed in the verse above is the evidence of that transformation: it is the fruit of God’s work in a life. We may attempt to reproduce this on our own, in the form of behavior modification, as if life were a self-improvement project. While there is some benefit to self-improvement, and many of us are in desperate need of better behavior, the real change, that most needed, cannot come from external influences, either from others or upon ourselves.

Three important things to consider: First, the behaviors/issues that can be observed are not the problem, but are merely symptoms of what is inside the person. Efforts to correct the externals are unfruitful until the source of the problems have been addressed. The transformation must begin on the inside. Second, The Spirit’s work is not something the person can create in himself, it is a cooperative project: God does the work in a person, but only to the extent that the person is a willing participant. Third, complete transformation does not take place instantly when a person is converted – it is a process. We cannot speed up this process, but there is much that can slow it down. There are barriers to the work of the Spirit, and most of them are of our own making. We are commanded to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) because what and how we think is the biggest hindrance to God’s work, and it is the one factor over which we have the most control.

We may not feel like we have control (of our thinking), largely because of our mindsets: the habits of thinking that we are seldom aware of, much less see how they are affecting our life. Certainly the issues are multi-dimensional, but our patterns of thinking are the root of all attitudes and actions. No change is possible until the related thinking/thought process changes. Thoughts always precede emotion and action, though largely sub-conscious. We can always know what is in the subconscious by observing the fruit.

Most of the outside world is a mess, and there is little that an individual can do about it. But my immediate environment is a reflection of my inner world. If there is chaos and fear inside, it will be seen in my eyes and in my relationships with the things and people I am close to. And all of this is based not what I say I believe, or even think I believe, but on what I truly believe and value.

In the words of Graham Cooke:

“If all our thinking has brought us to a place that we do not like, it is time to acquire some new thoughts. Our thinking always leads us somewhere. “

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:2

The Photo:

Upper Antelope Canyon is a very narrow slot canyon near Page, Arizona. Beams of light penetrate only at certain points in the canyon for a few minutes a day in certain parts of the year.

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