|Diary Page Thirty-Seven|
|February 14, 2003 - I'm still doing a lot of self-analysis. I am trying to figure out how I wish to proceed with my life from this point forward. I'm tired of lying around and waiting for something to happen. In harmony with this, I was thinking about producing the fruitage of the spirit. There are nine, Love, Joy, Peace, Long-Suffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faith, Mildness, and Self-Control. Hmm, looking at that list I suddenly feel very small again. I have such a long way to go. We all have such a long way to go. Well anyway, I was thinking about how I currently display the fruitage and how I could improve and be stronger in all areas. It will take a lot of prayer, study and meditation. Most of all, it will mean I will have to consciously act in harmony with my spiritual goals. I have to be more self-aware, not just let things happen and just react or behave any old kind of way.
So the first one I thought about was love (I always do things in order). For a Christian, love has to be felt and shown in a number of different ways. First, my love for Jehovah. I know that I believe in Jehovah and trust him wholeheartedly, because I love him. It is the purest feeling that I have. It is the working in according with that feeling, I often fall short here. I'm pretty sure there are times when I don't put Jehovah first. The thirteenth chapter of Corinthians is a favorite of mine. It contains a perfect description of Love. In fact, it seems that in some way all of the fruitage would ultimately come back to exercising love, for Jehovah, my fellow Christians and for my neighbors (i.e. everyone else in the world). Love is long-suffering and kind. That would be two of them right there. Long-suffering, hmm. The best examples of long-suffering are Jehovah and Jesus. Jehovah has been supremely long-suffering with all of us. Talk about patient! I know I put him through a lot. But long-suffering doesn't really mean just putting up with anything. Long-suffering is exercised with a positive, loving purpose. Jehovah has been long-suffering because he desires for all of us to attain repentance. This is because he loves us. Back to love again. In turn, if I love my brothers, I will be long-suffering. I will be long-suffering with people in the world who may not seem receptive to the life-saving message that I wish to bring them. If I am ministering out of love, then I will lovingly be patient too. If I am engaging in the ministry out of a sense of obligation, then I will not be able to be long-suffering. I have to be long-suffering with my family too. At the moment, that is my greatest area of concern with regard to long-suffering so I will maintain a special focus there, for the time being.
Love is also kind. Kindness! I know I am nice, or I can be if I want to be and I usually want to be. But kindness, I think that is something else entirely. The definition of kindness is "good or benevolent disposition, considerate and helpful". Disposed to goodness, a benevolent person. A benevolent person is someone who is disposed to goodwill, kindness, generosity, etc. with regard to other people. It is part of their being, not something that can be turned on and off. Not one of us is perfect, so we all err in this regard. For some people it is harder to develop Kindness than it is for others. It is like me and Self-Control (I'll get there later). Kindness, on the other hand, this is not foreign to me. I understand it more and I understand what it entails, even though I obviously have to work on it. When one is kind, they don't ask for anything to return. They don't even expect anything in return. Honestly, I think I am on the right path with regard to this attribute. I already have a solid foundation to build on here.
Okay, I'm not going in order then. I haven't forgotten joy and peace, but I am thinking about Goodness because being a good person is part of kindness. There is a big difference between being good and being righteous. Paul said hardly anyone would die for a righteous man but perhaps for a good man. When I was younger and I first read that, I was horrified. I thought that we are all supposed to be righteous, isn't that the point? I didn't know what Paul meant. I didn't know what goodness was all about. Someone who is being righteous is behaving in accordance with certain standards and justice. They don't do bad things, they maintain moral standards. Of course we should be righteous. Someone who is being good is willing to exert themselves for others, and do things for them. A good person is not passive, it is an active state of being. One must actually go out there and do good things, be a good person. One can be righteous sitting at home. The "Good Samaritan" is a wonderful example of goodness. Jesus provided such good illustrations for us. The Samaritan went well out of his way to help his neighbor. He did many things for someone he did not know. He was willing to spend time, money and anything else to make sure his neighbor would be okay. That is the kind of behavior that inspires loyalty in others. If you are good, someone just might die for you. Now see, I think I have a "good" spirit. Doing good things for other people occupies my mind frequently. I waste a lot of time though, and I don't seek out ways to act on it. If one is good, they will be moved. I think I have a solid foundation here and by learning to exercise love I can only improve in this area.
Well now, back to Joy. I've had a lot of trouble with this, but not because I didn't want to be joyful. Of course I'd like to be joyful. I often lose sight of how I can actually accomplish this and maintain it. But joy is found in Jehovah. If I develop my relationship with him and this friendship matures, then I will find that joy I seek. With Jehovah as my friend, how could I not be joyful? But how do I maintain it when I have it? I'm rather faithful, joyful and encouraged right now. I have to build on this quality so that it is in my heart, not just a temporary feeling. Once it is there, even if I am feeling down, I can always pray and reflect and recall it again.
Peace kind of ties in with the others, especially love and long-suffering. I can surely be more peaceable. Sometimes I can get riled up a little too easily. That is the way my flesh wants to react, with anger and bitter words. Sometimes I am prepared to go to war. Ahh, I can see that peace also ties in with self-control. Anyway, a peaceable person is content and humble. Thus, they do not feel threatened and thus do not react like a wild animal :). Yes, I need some work here but lately I have been working on it. I just didn't know what I was working on. My family could tell you I have been different in this regard. Must Maintain It.
Faith, mildness and self-control. Self-control, mildness and faith. One out of three ain't bad? Faith, this I understand and I have taken great strides in this the more I learn and the older I get. I long ago realized how important faith is. Jehovah gives every one of us a little bit of faith and with his help we can build on it. I value that. But faith is something I have to work on every day. Well I guess I have to work on all of them every day. But faith is something that must manifest itself in all aspects of my life. Everything must be centered around my faith in Jehovah and his promises. I cannot lose sight of that. My whole life must be lived in accordance with my faith. I understand how that works. I understand what faith means. Hebrews 11:1 has been one of my favorite scriptures since childhood. It is such a concise and accurate definition. And then all of the examples are given afterwards. I have faith and I can have more. I may be too harsh on myself with mildness. A mild-tempered person is humble and approachable. "An answer, when mild, turns away rage". How important this is! For one thing, people listen to you more if you are mild. They are comfortable with you. You can get your message across, and we have a very important message to get across. But it also applies with our fellow Christians and with family. Mildness is an interesting one to cultivate, especially since I want to get married. I will not be a harpy. I actually don't think I am too bad with that one, I have a solid foundation. Self-control, otherwise known as showing restraint. That one ties in with being peaceable, mild, and of course, loving. Now that I think about it, I have been working on this one for a while so it isn't as if I have ignored it. Personally, of the nine, I think this one and joy give me the most trouble. I seem like such a restrained person to everyone outside my family (excluding anyone who reads this website) but in so many ways I am not. I don't expect to be perfect, but I can be so much better.
You know what? Since these are fruitage of the spirit, then we can only truly cultivate them with Jehovah's spirit. And he gives that freely to anyone who asks. So this must all start with prayer!