"When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
This next sentence is one of the most important spiritual truths by allowing you to experience circumstances in which you're temped to express the exact opposite quality! Character development always involves a choice, and temptation provides that opportunity.
For instance, God teaches us love by putting some unlovely people around us. It takes no character to love people who are lovely and loving to you.
God teaches us real joy in the midst of sorrow, when we turn to him. Happiness depends on external circumstances, but joy is based on your relationship to God.
God develops real peace within us, not by making things go the way we planned, but by allowing times of chaos and confusion. Anyone can be peaceful watching a beautiful sunset or relaxing on vacation. We learn real peace by choosing to trust God in circumstances in which we are tempted to be worried or be afraid.
Likewise, patience is developed in circumstances in which we're forced to wait and are tempted to be angry or have a short fuse.
God uses the opposite situation of each fruit to allow us a choice. You can't claim to be good if you've never been tempted to be bad. You can't claim to be faithful if you've never had the opportunity to be unfaithful. Integrity is built by defeating the temptation to be dishonest; humility grows when we refuse to be prideful; and endurance develops every time you reject the temptation to give up. Every time you defeat a temptation, you become more like Jesus!"
-The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren
Rick Warren is my church's pastor and Totally Awesome. I got so inspired by this passage today. I've been going through a really tough time and needed this to remind me that God is trying t build my character. And it's so true!
It's easy to feel close to God when everything is sailing and things are just workin out my way like mechanics falling into place. But all of a sudden everything get's messed up and I wonder what I did wrong.
What's worse than one big disaster is one of those several-month-long stretches in which life seems pointless, nothing is easy, and everything is one big long uphill battle. I've been going through one of those stretches, and I was riding my bike feeling sorry for myself when the thought popped into my head: I didn't have to go through this. God could have fixed this easily, by having this person show up when they were supposed to, have this person do this, have this scheduling conflict worked out...
But he chose not to. God could have fixed this really easily, but he didn't! Why not?
Sometimes I deliberately try to figure out God's plan, but it's impossible.
Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb,[c] so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.
I know I'm going to be really challenged this evening. I've been dreading this evening all month, but I know I shouldn't dread it because God has planned it all out ahead of time. He goes before me and with me into each day.
Only one and a half more real weeks of school left....