John 15:8 – When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honoured and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of mine. (AMP)
Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. (AMP)
Almost thirty years ago, I began a journey, seeking to understand and express the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It began with memorizing the list: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. At the time, I felt a lack of and a strong desire for love, joy, and peace.
A couple of years ago, I read research findings in the field of positive psychology, which became signposts that sent me to Scripture and my prayer closet. From the psychologist's descriptions of situations and body language where people experience love, joy, and peace, I learned more about how to cultivate them. To my great delight, I have increased in skill as a gardener in my soul, producing crops that honour and glorify my Creator and help me demonstrate that I follow Christ.
Love is characterized by attraction, while giving positive value, as shown by the body language of leaning toward. The discipline and conscious choice to lean toward all that is the Lord's opens me to produce all the fruit Paul listed. The phrase from the Lord's Prayer, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done" (Matthew 6:10 NIV), works well to remind me about my preferred leanings.
Joy is felt when we discover "good". As a matter of habit, I look for and comment on what is good and valuable. Our Creator did the same: "And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good (suitable, pleasant) and He approved it completely." (Genesis 1:31a AMP)
Peace comes as a gift from Jesus, even in adverse circumstances. I have learned to cultivate peace by pausing deliberately, taking a deep breath, saying the word "awe", savouring all that is good, and thinking of positive reasons why life is wonderful. After that beginning, the thought of infinite wonder inspires words of praise and thanksgiving to our God.
Choosing to lean more often toward God, looking for "good", and pausing with a conscious, deep, gentle breath to contemplate the wonders of life help me to produce love, joy, and peace.
Prayer: Father, lead us day by day to lean toward You and find joy from our place in Christ, knowing that we are Your secure, well-loved children. May we produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit constantly, thereby honouring and glorifying You. We ask this in the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.