I'm a pretty happy person... as long as I'm fed, the sun is shining, I'm getting my way, and the scale reads 118 lbs. But to be honest, most days it's a struggle. I find that my moods are constantly being dictated by the alignment of the stars or some other completely intangible whim. The Bible says that the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I know I am filled with the spirit, so why is it that I'm having such a hard time seeing the fruit?
Romans 7 says this: v21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. SO basically I house the superpowers of Batman but at the same time I house the evil undoing of the Joker (aka my "flesh"). I see this struggle constantly at work in my life. I picture my husband walking through the door and I'm smiling and I run to embrace him. The kids see us and they run over and we have a big family group hug. In reality, he opens up the front door and all of my good feelings are gone when I remember that he left his wet towel on the bed again and the remnants of his egg flipping culinary skills are still dried to the front of the oven. Here's another example; I'm driving my kids to school listening to Christian radio, singing along, talking about how great life is and all of a sudden my speed is cut in half by some cute old man driving 20 in a 55. I want to love him and be understanding that he's probably scared out on the road as he's nearing 85, but all of a sudden I hear the words "are you kidding me?? come on idiot!!" erupt from my mouth. Ok, ok, one more, because I am all too familiar with this struggle. I decide I'm going to start eating healthy and I'm doing great all day until I realize there's a half gallon of ice cream and left over cupcakes in the house. So I use my ninja skills to down three bowls without the kids knowing.... in the pantry with the door closed of course. While I can sit here and laugh at this from a distance, my husband isn't laughing, the old man in the car isn't laughing and my health isn't laughing. It says that we've been given the keys to the kingdom but in these moments, I feel as though I've been locked out.
So how do I fix this? How do I get "Batman" to win more? How do I drown out the defenning laughter of the Joker and utilize the power that I have? A friend of mine put it this way; when you go to the gym, you exercise different muscle groups. If you work your legs, they build muscle and get stronger. If you work your arms and ignore your legs, your arms get stronger and your legs start to disappear. Such is the case with the two parts of you that war with each other. If you exercise (or listen to) the hero that's in you (your spirit/Batman), that part of you will get stronger. But if you let your nemesis (your flesh/Joker) win all the time then that part will become stronger.
I know we all subscribe to the "10 minute" ab buster that guarantees a six pack in two weeks, so I thought I'd put together a "10 minute" Spirit builder to help us bulk up!
+1 minute warm-up: breathe. seriously. Take a few deep breaths. Accept the fact that you have 9 more minutes of exercise.
+3 minutes: Acknowledge the power of God's spirit in you. speak Galatians 5: 22-23 over yourself a few times and believe that it is true of you regardless of your past. Replace "but the fruit of the spirit is" with "I am strong in".
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.
Just like an apple tree that produces fruit, this isn't something you have to try to be, it's something that you are.
+3 minutes: Identify your triggers. What situations or people trigger you to respond in a "flesh" way.
+3 minutes: Pray. If you struggle with what to pray, here's one to get you started, but ultimately, God will help you with what and how to pray. Don't forget to listen as well. We can't listen to God if we are always talking.
God, I need your help. Without you intervening here, I am likely to be mean, selfish and lacking compassion. Remind me of your word and who I am in your eyes throughout the day. When I do encounter my "triggers" help me to not default, but to choose to exercise my spirit. I will choose love, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, goodness and self-control today.