February, the “love” month is coming to a close. All month the internet has been flooded with tips for improving our relationships with those closest to us.
Even with all those helpful suggestions, relationships are hard. We are short on patience and too often misunderstand each other. Feelings get hurt and closeness suffers.
So, what’s the answer?
I’ve been wondering what would happen if you and I made a decision to care of our relationships through the lens of the Fruit of the Spirit.
What if we treated every relationship with fruit attributes?
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23
How the Fruit of the Spirit Can Bless Your Relationships
Love is easy when everything is all sunshine and butterflies . . . but caring for our friends and family when they’re difficult, outspoken, and demanding is hard.
It would be easier if love really was just an emotional response but it’s not.
God gave the Apostle Paul the words to define love in 1 Corinthians 13…
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Joy-filled people are the best cheerleaders. They’re happy for each other. Spirit-given joy helps them avoid comparisons and envy so they can celebrate every success with family and friends.
Joy makes us so thankful for the gifts and blessings God has given us . . . we’ll avoid the comparisons that kill it.
Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15
“Comparison is the death of joy.” ~Mark Twain
People who enjoy Spirit-given peace, trust and believe the best about others. They calmly talk things out and quickly forgive when their feelings are hurt. They also ask for forgiveness when they’ve said or done something that hurts.
Spirit-given peace makes us peacemakers.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17–18
Patient people are slow to criticize. They look for the best believing most slights are unintended and/or unavoidable.
We will disagree and hurt each other sometimes but with God’s help, you and I can remember to give the same patience to others we want them to give us.
Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Ephesians 4:2
Kind people are well . . . kind.
You and I want the people are us to be nice. I’m guessing they want us to be nice, too. The goal is consistency and that takes Spirit-given kindness.
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” ~Henry James
Spirit-given goodness makes it possible people to reject selfishness and put others first.
Ooh, that’s hard, isn’t it? Selfishness comes naturally but just imagine how we could bless our relationships if we chose to put the good of others ahead of our own.
Wow, if everyone did it we’d enjoy a little taste of heaven on earth.
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in His steps. 1 Peter 2:21
Faithful people are trustworthy.
If you and I want our friends and families to trust us we will consistently show them how much we value them. We’ll faithfully keep their secrets and always tell the truth gently and kindly. Spirit-given faithfulness gives us the strength we need to keep our promises.
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” Luke 16:10
Gentleness is not weakness. It is strength under control.
When you and I have Spirit-given gentleness we won’t anger easily. We’ll stop, breathe, listen, and treat everyone with humble caring compassion. Yeah, can’t do that on our own . . . it takes Spirit-given gentleness.
They [believers] must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. Titus 3:2
Spirit-given self-control provides balance in relationships. It keeps people from taking advantage of the kindness of others and do what’s best.
At a time when the world says “it’s all about me,” and “I need to take care of number one,” self-control helps us surrender to God and apply the Fruit of the Spirit to every relationship.
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 2 Timothy 3:1-3
As I read through this list, I know I can’t do these things on my own.
Live and work without pride. Be gentle and kind. Do not be hard on others. Let love keep you from doing that. Work hard to live together as one by the help of the Holy Spirit. Then there will be peace. Ephesians 4:2–3
I need the Holy Spirit’s help! You too?!
Without the Spirit, selfishness defeats us . . . but with His perfect presence and help, we can love well, stop comparing and work toward peace with patience and kindness.
Praise God, through His Spirit we have all we need to live with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control and bless our relationships.
One last quote to help us remember…
“The fruit of the Spirit is fundamentally relational. Rather than originating with us, it flows to us from our union with Christ, and it flows beyond us to bring us into fellowship with others. The secret of this flow – and our unity with God and others – is humility.” ~Jerry Bridges
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