'The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.'
Galatians 5: 22-23
Galatians 5: 22-23
It always surprises me how easy it is to miss the simple things. Sometimes I like to kid myself that my life is orientated around looking to the needs of others so I don't need to consciously remember to practice these extra little kindnesses. That is, of course, nonsense. Just because you do a job or have a role that is about serving others doesn't mean that you necessarily do it with the right heart. Kindness, generosity, gentleness and love are things that needed to be worked out and practised.
I wrote an article for the Big Bible project this week about the prophet Hosea and his insistence that religion without action is worse than pointless. That actions are how we really know what is in the heart, not words. Paul, here, takes a very similar line. You say you love God, then show me how you love those around you. You say you pray every day, well show me your kindness. You say you give to charity without fail, well let me see the generosity of your heart overflowing when I speak with you, walk with you and know you day by day.
This both encourages me and hugely challenges me. I constantly assess what I really believe based not on what I think I believe but on what I do and the picture that emerges is not always as I would like. Goodness me, I don't live up to this list! But it encourages me that this is what striving towards God looks like, this is what I will grow into more and more if I walk this path with integrity. That is exciting and, to me, infinitely worth doing.
So right now, taking one more tiny step along the road, I'm trying to do one consciously kind thing a day. Something that puts me out, something that I don't really want to do. Something that inconveniences me. As I'm practising this I have found it bringing me another one of the words on the list - joy. It is fun to meet the needs of others in unexpected ways and the more you do it the easier it comes. The more it pops into your mind to do these things.
So that is my mini, mid year resolution for now. How about you, are any of these characteristics on your wish list?