Imagine that you’re in a sword-fighting competition. You have a good-quality sword ready; one made specifically for this competition.
However, when your opponent takes their place across from you, they have nothing but a pair of boxing gloves to fight with. What are they thinking? You think to yourself. If this was a boxing match, those gloves would be fine, but in this competition, they wouldn’t last 5 seconds.
Why do I want you to envision this? Well, in the past 3 parts of this series, we talked about the battle that we all face and how to stay strong through it. In part 3, we went over the importance of surrounding ourselves with godly friends, but just having good friends won’t fully protect us.
We need the correct weapons that God has given us to face the enemy. We don’t want to be like the person who came to a sword-fighting match with a pair of boxing gloves.
So, what are these powerful weapons? Let’s look at Galatians 5:22-23.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Instead of being bombarded with a list of what we shouldn’t do, God showed us what we should do to have a joyful life in Christ!
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Love is a powerful thing! Of course, a lot of the time, people base love on their feelings; when the feelings are gone then the love must be too. The only way to love God and the people around you is if you understand what love is (see 1 Corinthians 13) and that is demonstrated by Jesus when He died on the cross for us (John 19-20).
The devil tries to get us to hate those around us when our feelings get hurt, but true love is unconditional. When we make up our minds to love, no matter what, there is no room for hate.
Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Do you ever have those days when all you can think of is the negative elements of life? Those times when it seems like nothing is going right? I know I sure do. Satan is always trying to get us to think of life as a ‘glass as half-empty’.
When I read the verse above, I realize that, yeah, bad things are gonna happen sometimes, but I have hope because God’s power is in my life! That doesn’t mean I have to be happy all of the time. It means that, even through the midst of hardships, I can still have a heart of joy and hope knowing the Jesus has overcome.
Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Who doesn’t want peace? Especially in the world we live in right now, it seems like everyday is filled with bad news. Satan uses that to get us to worry and become afraid because he knows that, if he can can only get us to doubt a little bit in God, he can inch his way into our lives and cause us to forsake God altogether.
When I was younger I used to get really scary nightmares (I still remember some, to this day). They got to me so bad that one actually caused me to think that it might come true.
The one thing that gave me peace during those moments was when my parents prayed with me and wrote down some verses from Psalm 91 to keep with me. I was able to put my trust in God and rest assured that He would always be with me.
Satan wants us to doubt that God really knows what He’s doing, but when we come back with God’s Word, that devil has no power over us.
Hebrews 6:11 “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.”
Remember the last time you were in a hurry and had to wait in a long line? It’s so easy to think that, just because I’m in a rush, everyone else is too. Yeah, that’s not accurate. It takes a whole lot of patience to wait when you want things now.
Just think though. If we always get what we want when we want it, what are we ever going to learn? God wants us to go through life diligently so that, in the end, we can see how it actually taught us things!
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
If we lived in a world where everyone was kind and forgiving toward one another. That would be amazing, right? Sadly, that’s not the way it works. We are all selfish at heart and are driven toward being rude and unforgiving.
However, we also all have the law of God written on our hearts and know the difference between right and wrong. Even if no one else is striving to be kind and loving, our acts of kindness really can make a difference and reflect the character of God!
Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
You know that feeling when someone hurts us in some way and we just want to get back at them? That’s called wanting revenge (you probably already guessed that :)).
When we chase after getting back at people, we never get the fulfilling that we expect. That’s because repaying evil with evil isn’t the way that leads to happiness. God says to overcome evil with good and only when we do that will we be satisfied.
1 Samuel 12:24 “”Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.”
What is faithfulness? Well, if you look at Jesus’ life, you can see it in full action! There were a lot of people who didn’t like him. They searched for one fault in everything He did, but they never found any. Even though it would’ve been easy to just give up, Jesus stayed faithful to His father and to us because He loves us.
When I think about faithfulness, I think of following and trusting God, even when I don’t understand what He’s doing in my life. He has never failed me! Once again, Satan wants us to doubt the good character of God, but by staying faithful to God through our trials of everyday life, we can fight back. God already has the victory!
Philippians 4:5 “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.”
As Christians, we reflect God’s love to the people around us. If we’re always being rowdy and trying to draw all the attention to ourselves, we give people a false picture of who God is, which is Satan’s main goal.
We’re meant to live a gentle life. That doesn’t mean that we can’t speak up for what’s right or take a stand for what we believe in. It simply means that we don’t cause chaos every where we go. We are careful to honor God in what we do.
Proverbs 25:28 “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be like a city whose walls are broken down. When I think of self-control, I think of anger. Not anger in general, but being quick to get angry. I’ve known some people who don’t think before they speak. They say whatever comes to mind, even if it’s hurtful.
It’s pretty easy to let your feelings control you, but what will that accomplish? In the end, you’ll end up being the person who no one wants to be around because you are quick to judge and get angry. Controlling your tongue can be hard, but with prayer and strength from God, you can do it! And it will be worth it!
God didn’t put us in a battle with no armor or weapons. He gave us the fruit of the Spirit to fight off Satan’s lies.
Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We won’t get anywhere if we only rely on our own strength. We need to rely on the strength that Christ gives.
Equip yourself with the fruit of the Spirit! Don’t be the one who shows up to the sword-fighting competition with a pair of boxing gloves.
Come back next week for the last and final part of this 5-part series to put these strategies into action!
What do you think?
What’s an example of putting one of the fruits of the Spirit into action from your own life?