Do you consider yourself a Christian? If you do, you've probably asked yourself at some point if you are living your life the way God intended. Did you know that there is a test in the Bible to see if that is the case?
Paul clearly outlines a test each of us can take in his letter to the churches of Galatia, which is the area we now know today as Turkey. In case you aren't familiar with the passage, here it is.
Paul's Instructions to the Members of the Church
Keep in Step with the Spirit
16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
The key passage here is the fruit of the Spirit, this is how you know that God is working in your life. You can read versus 19-21 above to see if you exhibit the negative aspects defined as the works of the flesh. If you do, work to eliminate them from your life.
The signs of a positive relationship with God are defined as the fruit of the Spirit.
22 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentlenesses, self-control; against such things, there is no law.
Here is the quiz. Does your life exhibit those 9 positive traits and not the works of the flesh outlined in verse 19-21? Those 9 traits again are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. If it does, then you are walking in line with the Spirit.
You'll want to keep reading even if you answered yes because some of these traits are not as straightforward as you think. You may be surprised, our modern notions for some of these things are pretty far away from what God had in mind!
Are These 9 Fruits Present in Your Life?
The Greek word for this is Agape. This denotes a benevolence and unconquerable goodwill, that always seeks the highest of the other, no matter what s/he does. It is the self-giving love that gives freely without asking anything in return and does not consider the worth of its object. Agape is more love by choice than philos, which is love by chance; and it refers to the will rather than the emotion. Agape describes the unconditional love God has for the world.
Paul further describes love in 1 Corinthians 13
4Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Jesus challenges our modern ideas of love and challenges us to a new level of understanding in this passage from Luke Chapter 6.
Wow, that's a tough challenge. Do you have this type of love in your life?
This is a little bit of a hard one for me personally as I often take things a bit too seriously. If this is you, step back a little and have some fun as well. Enjoy the tiny moments we are given each day, as those are what life is made of. Give God joyful praise for the gifts you already have in your life. God intended for there to be joy in our lives, be intentional about doing healthy things that bring you joy!
Do you have joy in your life?
When was the last time you slept peacefully or felt at peace with the things going on in your life? If you are not at peace, what causes anxiety in your life?
Try praying the Serenity Prayer, and really read the words. I might add that I've always wanted to change that third line to “Courage to change the things I can…and should.” Sometimes things should be left alone and accepted even if you have the power to change them.
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Do you have peace in your life?
Ahh, patience. If you've gotten to this point in the article, then you've demonstrated a little bit of patience at least, great job! If you want to learn patience, then pray for it. Just be careful of what you ask for because the way we learn patience is not always fun!
Do you have patience in your life?
Do you do things for others and expect nothing in return? Do you show respect to anyone you come across, regardless of their status or current state in life?
Do you have kindness in your life?
Do you have strong moral values based on Biblical principles? Do you always do what is right, even when that is very difficult?
Do you have goodness in your life?
Can you commit yourself to others and to God? Do you often find yourself wandering off the path that you know is right?
Do you have faithfulness in your life?
The New Spirit-Filled Life Bible defines gentleness as
“a disposition that is even-tempered, tranquil, balanced in spirit, unpretentious, and that has the passions under control. The word is best translated ‘meekness,' not as an indication of weakness, but of power and strength under control. The person who possesses this quality pardons injuries, corrects faults, and rules his own spirit well”.
This word is used in other areas of the Bible, not to denote weakness, but to denote a well-balanced attitude toward other people. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” – Galatians 6:1.
Some of the most influential people that I know are gentle, they know how to say hard things in such a way that not only can the person can hear them, but they even thank them for the encouragement.
Do you keep your power and strength under control? Do you have gentleness in your life?
The Greek word used here is “egkrateia“, meaning “strong, having mastery, able to control one's thoughts and actions.”
Do you have self-control in your life?
For some of you, this little quiz may have been an eye-opener. If you would like to have these things in your life, how about spending time in the word each day and surrounding yourself with others who feel these things are important?
Bible.com has an app you can use on your smartphone, with many plans such as read the Bible in a year. Try it out! See if your church has small groups and join one. I have a men's group that meets once a week over breakfast, and this has been a fantastic source of growth for me as the others challenge me to a new level of discipleship. Get involved!
I hope that this article has helped you in some small way. If it has, please share it so that others can benefit!