Intentional Spiritual Growth for the New Year

spiritual growth

I hope your 2018 is off to a productive start.  Technically, January 1 is just another day.  The concept of New Year’s Day is a product of our calendar.  Regardless of that, I LOVE a New Year. And my desirefor 2018 is spiritual growth.

As I have pondered 2018, I asked God to give me ONE Bible passage for my focus in 2018.  He laid Galatians 5:22-23 on my heart.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

This year, I want the Holy Spirit to help me grow in these 9 attributes.  I hope that we all want to see more of the Holy Spirit’s influence through our lives.  When He is at work, we increasingly demonstrate these qualities.

The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Growth

First, notice the the Bible refers to these attributes as the fruit of the Spirit.  That is a reminder that I cannot conjure them on my own.  I can only make myself so loving, patient, faithful, gentle, or any of the qualities. I am limited in my abilities to better myself.

However, when I allow the Holy Spirit to influence my mind, emotions, and will (what the Bible calls our “heart”), He produces them abundantly.  The key to growth in these desirable qualities is in yielding ourselves to His influence. I’ll address the “how to” at the end of today’s blog.

Also, notice that the word “fruit” is singular.  These are not nine different qualities from which we can pick and choose which one we want or not.  When the Holy Spirit is in control, He produces fruit in ALL of these areas.  

Many of us could use more fruit in our physical diets.  We eat a lot of junk and would benefit by replacing junk with fruit.  

The fruit of the Spirit is a more “spiritually healthy” alternative than it’s antithesis.  In the larger context of Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit is set against the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-21).  I will bear one resemblance or the other.  Would I rather demonstrate a life controlled by the sinful flesh or the Holy Spirit? I would rather experience the latter.

How the Holy Spirit Produces Spiritual Growth

Galatians 5 lays out the contrast of the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. The passage calls us to action.

But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16

The word walk implies a couple of important aspects.  It implies intentionality.  In this sense, to “walk” in something means to choose it, embrace it, live it. We choose to let the Holy Spirit influence us.  But if we do not choose, if we go with our default, we gratify our flesh.

The word walk also implies a continuing effort.  We take steps, maybe even small steps, but progressive steps nonetheless.  I will not demonstrate the Holy Spirit’s influence by doing one thing for one day, expecting it to last forever.  I must choose to walk in the Spirit daily, multiple times a day even.

So, here is my plan for experiencing more Holy Spirit fruit daily in my life.

First, I will ask the Holy Spirit to bear HIS fruit in me.  Every day I will admit that I cannot exhibit those qualities on my own.  I need the Holy Spirit to produce them IN me.  And I express my desire that He do so. Every day.  First thing. Before even getting out of the bed.

And then I repeat that prayer often throughout the day.  As often as necessary.

Second, I fill my mind with God’s Word.  The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of Scripture and He uses Scripture to shape us and grow us.  I can learn more about those 9 attributes and their application in everyday life by reading the Bible.

The Bible is our spiritual nourishment and provides a great alternative to my own mental junk food.

How Much Fruit Will You Bear?

I hope my challenge also challenges you to allow the Holy Spirit to influence you even more this year. Every one of us will exhibit either an unhealthy life directed by our default – the flesh. Or we will demonstrate that God is at work in us through the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s fruit.  

What ONE thing will you do TODAY to move toward displaying the Holy Spirit’s fruit?

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