Here are some reflections on the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). At the end I’ve included an acrostic on the Gifts of the Spirit (as a reminder that these are distinct from the ‘fruits’), together with a reflection on God’s Grace from which fruits and gifts flow.
Fruits of the Spirit
Followers of Jesus
Respond with love, spread joy.
In the Spirit
They foster peace,
Show patience, and don’t annoy.
Others’ burdens bearing
Freely, gladly sharing
They act with kindness
Hold fast to all goodness
Saints act with gentleness and
Practise self-control; they endure
Insults and injuries with
Rejoicing. To be sure,
If you abide in the Spirit,
Then you are free from the law.
Liking just the people you get on with isn’t enough
Often it’s hard to be unstinting with Christian love
Valuing the one who pleases as much as the one who offends –
Enemies, awkward relatives, your ex, fickle friends…
Joyful for the possibilities this new day brings
Often, inexplicably, your heart suddenly sings
You soar over troubles on eagle’s wings
Prince of Peace, making my spirit whole
Everlasting Father, stilling my restless soul
Almighty God, eternally in control
Counsellor most wonderful, keeping me secure
Even in the midst of conflict, terror, war
Please, Lord, grant me:
A temper that doesn’t easily flare
Time to show others I really do care
Inspiration, when I’m close to despair
Equanimity, when life seems unfair
Numerous blessings to ponder and share
Calmness when problems seem too much to bear
Even when I’m hectic, the time for a prayer.
…and another take on Patience, written for a friend who was going through a hard time at work
Petulant, peevish people wearing down my resistance
Awkward administrators offering zero assistance
Truculent truck-drivers tailgating me on the road
Incompetent, interfering idiots pushing me to overload
Everyone, everywhere seems to be on my case.
Now I need your soothing, gentle balm of Grace:
Calm me, Lord, as you calmed the stormy sea,
Enfold me in your place of tranquillity.
Kindle a flame for the broken
Include the least and the lost
Nurture the word gently spoken
Dispel the hurtful riposte
Neighbourly be to the lonely
Entertain angels unawares
Sinners can be saints if they only
Shower the land with their prayers
Guided in paths of righteousness
Offering a life set apart –
Often it’s what I aim for though,
Despite trying hard, I depart.
Notwithstanding my human weakness
Each day I have a new start
Seeking goodness, seeking assurance that
Sin’s shadow won’t darken my heart.
Faith means knowing our hope is secure
And being certain of things unseen,
It means that our anchor is steadfast and sure,
Trusting that servant angels convene
Here and in Heaven, to encourage and cheer.
For we are not left to journey alone –
Unnumbered witnesses help us persevere.
Let us, then, confidently approach the throne
Never neglecting each other’s needs,
Entertaining strangers (and angels unawares),
Spurring one another to love and good deeds,
Sharing the new covenant, as eternity’s heirs.
Getting through a difficult day
Every so often
Needs someone to pray
Tenderly with us, to soften
Life’s low points and losses.
Each of us who knows God’s care
Never doubts the crosses
Everyone, from time to time, must bear.
So when a fellow pilgrim falters on the road
Speak to them gently, share their load.
Seven things are detestable to the Lord –
Eyes that are haughty and untoward
Lying teeth and lying tongue
Feet that rush quickly to do wrong
Cynical gossips who falsely accuse
One whose heart plans an evil ruse
Niggardly folk who stir up strife
The hand that takes an innocent life.
Restrain yourself, therefore, when anger descends
Offer an olive branch to one who offends
Lest your heart is still wrathful when daytime ends
Gifts of the Spirit
God’s Holy Spirit intercedes,
Imparting talents to us in different measure
For the common good and particular needs.
To some, wisdom is a special treasure;
Still others are given knowledge to convey.
Others, in times of trouble, are a strong tower –
Faith, deep and sure, they display.
Then, there are those whose power
Heals the broken body, the heart that’s riven.
Even more, some have the ability to perform
Signs and miracles; whilst some are given
Prophetic powers to counsel and warn.
Ineffable words are spoken by others, through
Rapturous tongues from angels above.
Interpreting those tongues is for others to do –
Though greater than any talent, is the gift of love.
Both Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit flow from God’s grace:
Grafted in the vine, we become Yahweh’s kin
Ransomed by unmerited love, God’s spirit enters in
Absolved from guilt, we are cleansed within
Clemency, not judgement, breaks the grip of sin
Enveloped in God’s mercy, a new life can begin.