“Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12).
As followers of Jesus, we’ve all had the feeling of grasping for one of these fruits of the Spirit while wondering if we had a single one to give. A reader once wrote to me, “I think I have plenty of each of the fruits when I don’t need them. It’s when I’m in a trying situation that I discover the fruit I need is the one I’m short of.” I’ve always loved this woman for her honesty because we can all relate to her sentiment. I have patience in droves when everything is going my way. I’m the kindest person I know when people are treating me well. I’ve got humility for days when no one is challenging my pride. You see where I’m headed here…fruits are not fruits until they’re tested.
Which leads us to another challenge: What do we do when we’re trying to heed Paul’s advice to wear these fruits, yet we have very little compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, or patience growing in our hearts? Not to mention, when we study these fruits we realize that each has a powerful meaning, and Jesus embodied all of them (perhaps another post for another day). In other words, when Paul asks us to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, he’s asking something extraordinary of us. This way of living and being around others isn’t something we can simply will ourselves into. I tried to do this for the longest time until Paul’s opening line grabbed my attention: “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved…”
[click_to_tweet tweet=”“When I truly believe I’m significant to my Savior, the fruits flow more freely from within me.”” quote=”“When I truly believe I’m significant to my Savior, the fruits flow more freely from within me.””]
For most of my life, I’d inadvertently leaped straight over these doctrinal principles, not realizing that these truths are the very basis for being able to love one another with the fruits of Jesus. And oh the difference this has made.
TO BE CHOSEN
The Greek word for chosen is eklektos. It means picked out, chosen to obtain salvation through Christ. When we sit in the reality and mystery that God chose us before the foundations of the world to be His adopted son or daughter (Ephesians 1:4-5), our heart can’t help but soften and enlarge. When I truly believe I’m significant to my Savior, the fruits flow more freely from within me.
TO BE SET APART
In addition to being chosen, we’ve been made holy. The Greek word here is hagios, and it means to be set apart for God, to be exclusively His. The word can also mean sacred, unlike or otherness, different. When we’re grounded and settled in the reality that we’ve been set apart for special and sacred purposes within God’s Kingdom, the fruits come more naturally. When we’re secure in our calling, the posture of humility and the ability to cheer for others will flow more freely.
TO BE DEARLY LOVED
Some Bible versions say beloved instead of dearly loved. Both express the deep and beautiful meaning of the Greek word agapao, which is an active love. It means “to be fond of,” “dear,” “precious,” and “costly.” Growing up I sometimes felt more tolerated by God than I did precious to Him. As though I’d barely made the cut as His child. But Paul boldly declared that we are His beloved in Jesus Christ. We won’t be able to effectively embody the fruits of Jesus without first knowing how dearly He loves us.
Simply put, we often try to live the fruits of the Spirit in hopes of being chosen by God, loved by Him, and set apart by Him, when in reality it’s the other way around. Because we are chosen, made holy, and set apart, we are now able to bear the fruit as Jesus has taken up residence in our hearts. While sanctification plays a part in fruitful living, and sanctification takes time, the fruits of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience are always accessible to you, because Jesus is the embodiment of them all. And He loves you dearly.
Would you like an excerpt of Kelly’s Finding God Faithful Bible Study?
Click HERE to sign up and it will be delivered straight to your inbox.
This post originally appeared on lifewayvoices.com
The Hope of Lent
I didn’t grow up in a Christian tradition that observed Lent. It wasn’t until my late twenties, when I was going through a terrible time in my life, that I began to observe it. It was one of those seasons where I was stuck. Stuck in my sin. Tangled in...
What It Means To Be Blessed
This is Day 5 from Kelly's 90-day devotional book, The Blessed Life. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:3 Sometimes when I’m really out of sorts my friends will remind me of how truly blessed I am, how much I have to be...
What Will You Receive This Year?
Happy New Year, friends. If you’re anything like me, every last Christmas tree needle has been swept from the house, the gnarls of Christmas lights are tucked away in boxes, and you just found a stray ornament, one that will possibly sit on your dresser until next...
Savior and Friend
The Christmas season is fully upon us. I have no idea how this happened, since it feels like only a few days ago I had 31 people at my house for Thanksgiving. I love hosting, but this was the longest day of my life. I am not at all opposed to going back to my growing...
Seeing God in Every Season
It’s November, one of my favorite months of the year. I don’t know if you love all-things homelike I do, but I have my autumn décor and colors out, and I’m about to slash open somepumpkins for pumpkin pie. The leaves have mostly fallen, and with the crunch of them...
A Case for Grace
I baked bread yesterday. I milled my grain, used a digital scale my brother bought me for my birthday, and converted everything from ounces to grams. It was a disaster. I’m not sure where I erred but one loaf looks like it’s trying to throw up and the other like a...
A Reminder From Jesus That God Is Good
Happy First Day of September! I love this month because it’s the back-to-routine month where we settle into the swing of rhythms. Some of my favorite times of the year lay close ahead: turning leaves, football, deep bowls of chili, turkeys on our tables, and...
Consider the Birds
I was awake at 3:30 in the morning. My mind racing as it’s been doing non-stop the past few weeks or so. Certain realities of life that have mostly felt concrete, prior to very recently, are suddenly gone or simply up in the air. Where will it all land? We don’t know,...
The Nearness of God in Uncertain Times
If you’re anything like me over the past few weeks you’ve been vacillating between a confident trust in God and waves of panic and fear. For those of us who are Christ followers we want to trust the Lord but we get tripped up on wondering what exactly we can trust Him...
The Blessed Life: 14 Day Devotional Series
Needing encouragement? Join me for 14 days of devotions based on the hope-filled words of Jesus. It’s free and comes straight to your inbox.