But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
When I was doing my music degree, I was introduced to the concept of Controlled Breathing. The idea was that through learning how to control your breathing, you can control your nerves. By taking long, slow breaths, it puts more oxygen into your blood stream, which means your heart doesn’t need to work so hard, so it slows down, which will lead to you not sweating as much, and feeling calmer. Likewise, if you take short, shallow breaths, your heart rate will increase, as it’s not getting as much oxygen and needs to work harder.
I was reminded of this while attending my first Salvation Army service. I had missed being ready to head along to my church (darned 9am start time), and my girlfriend (who is a Salvo), was going to her 10:30 service. I realised I had enough time to have a shower and get down there, so I decided to see what a Salvo service is like. The sermon was on love, being the third week of advent. But the line that caught my attention was “But the fruit of the spirit is… self-control.”
Even though I’ve heard this scripture many times, I guess my thoughts kinda leant towards that if you were faithful, the spirit would bring these things out in your life. However, I realised yesterday that it is infact the complete opposite. By showing these “fruits” we actually invite the spirit into our lives, and the spirit will help us to use these gifts for God’s work.
The reason I was reminded about my controlled breathing experiences was that it showed me that we don’t need to wait for the spirit to show up in order to do these things. We can be joyful, loving, peaceful, patient, self controlled etc by making a conscious decision to do so, and by doing that, we invite the spirit to be present in our lives.
I pray that we can have the courage to be loving to the unloved, joyful in dark times, peaceful in a violent world, patient in our busy lives, kind to those who are unkind, good to the evil ones, faithful in a sceptical world, gentle in a harsh world, and self controlled where we are tempted. Amen.