Well, wouldn’t you know it? I had a situation happen that would ordinarily cause me to respond in a way that would have gone against everything I talked about last week.
We had to get the siding on our home repaired, and I provided a specific card for payment of the services. I also receive regular services from the same company that did the repair and have a monthly fee automatically deducted out of my checking account.
Background: Remember that ISTJ personality I talked about last week? It allows me to meticulously budget my income so that every dollar coming into our main household account is assigned – to pay bills, to savings, family expenses, and for our tithes or offering. I use the zero-budgeting method – look it up if you’ve never heard of it – it will change your life and finances if you don’t currently have a budget.
Back to my story – the day after the service was completed, I logged into my checking account and noticed a significant amount of money missing from the balance. After I checked the transactions, I discovered this company had deducted the payment from our checking account, instead of the card I had previously given for payment.
So of course, I contacted them immediately to inquire about why my directions weren’t followed, ready to voice my frustration, but the Holy Spirit gently nudged me. Yes, they made a mistake, however there was no harm done. No checks were bounced, nor were there any insufficient fund charges, and I was able to transfer money from another account to replace the payment.
By following the Holy Spirit, I had an opportunity to show grace to the person on the other end of my phone, not having any idea who she was, or what she may be going through that day. Responding that way wasn’t my intention when I first called. I wanted to blast someone for not following my instructions, and for… making a mistake.
You see, one of my personal struggles is uncontrolled anger over a perceived wrong or emotional injury.
Many of us struggle with the below behaviors based on our sinful nature. Some of us may be more prone to certain actions based on our learned behavior, personalities, or unchecked desires, but we all have areas in our lives that we need the Holy Spirit to help us overcome.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 NLT.
All of these struggles are related to personal desires and selfishness. When we exhibit these behaviors, we are only satisfying ourselves. This is exactly what our flesh wants, for us to keep the focus on ourselves – on what we want, how we want it, and when we want it. This behavior not only separates us from God, but also causes separation and conflict with the people in our lives.
So, how do we get rid of those things in our lives, especially those behaviors that we have been exhibiting for so long? You know, the ones we try to excuse by saying, “That’s just how I am!
If we truly want to overcome our natural struggles, we must allow the Holy Spirit to work in us. When we let Him take over our lives, we no longer get a vote for how we should act. His influence will change certain characteristics, no matter how long we’ve been acting that way.
The evidence of His influence in our lives is called fruit. That encounter last week on the phone was evidence of my fruit, as I didn’t respond how I naturally wanted to. I overruled my desires and responded based on the influence of the Holy Spirit.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
As Believers, we will be known by our fruit. How we act, behave, and talk is a reflection of the fruit we are producing in our lives. Since these behaviors are focused on others, our fruit benefits those around us, and we are no longer making choices for self-gratification.
I want to share my personal checklist that helps holds me accountable for my actions toward others and allows me to monitor if I am indeed allowing the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in my life.
Am I showing love through my actions? Regardless of whether I feel it is deserved or not?
Am I joyful in the Lord, despite my situation? Do I trust that He is in control, or is my discontent with current circumstances visible to all that I encounter?
Do I seek peace and just let things go? Or do I respond to every fault and perceived wound?
Do I practice patience, especially during an extended period of suffering? Am I able to show grace to someone who has wronged me?
Do I have a kind heart, despite how I feel? Do I intentionally say or do something that will hurt another’s feelings?
Do I have a good nature, and bring out the best in my circle of influence? Are there positive intentions supporting my actions?
Am I faithful, even when it’s extremely difficult to do so? Can I be counted on to keep my word?
Am I gentle when aggression seems like a more natural response? Do I control the tone and volume of my voice amid conflict?
Do I exhibit self-control when my desires are not met, or rights have been violated? Does my anger get the best of me, or am I able to control the growing rise of ire inside of me?
That’s quite a list! But my goal is to be a beautiful fruit salad, full of the above behaviors, with every encounter yielding others the enjoyment of experiencing sweet, juicy fruit.
Are there any “Fruits of the Spirit” that come easy to you? Are there some that you struggle with?
Due to our sinful nature, we naturally want to satisfy all of our personal desires, but with the Holy Spirit’s influence, we must deny our selfishness and instead show behaviors that are focused on others.
What changes do you need to make to take the focus off yourself and put it on others?
PRAY WITH ME:
Holy Spirit, I admit that I struggle with selfish behaviors and don’t always allow the Fruits of your Spirit to work inside of me. Please help me overcome my natural desire to focus on myself so that others can benefit from the influence that you have on my life.
Help me to produce the fruit of your Spirit in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Feel free to respond in the comments section… and share this story with someone in your life that could use the encouragement.
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