The Fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

I wonder how many self-help books have been written about character development. Books that teach us to be loving, joyful and at peace with ourselves. While certainly not everyone in the world sees these attributes as desirable, most people seem to. Or at least they want to see them in the people they are surrounded by. I suppose that some of these self-help books can give helpful advice. But anytime we focus on our own efforts to develop into loving, joyful, peaceful people, we produce something that is only an imitation of the real thing.

The only sure way to success is to walk with the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 18). When I walk with him, allowing him to work on my life, the results of his efforts, the fruit of the Spirit, will be obvious: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. They will not come into full bloom instantly. But as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, these virtues will grow and mature. The Holy Spirit within will be reflected through me for all to see.

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Overflowing Hope through Joy and Peace – Romans 15:13

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13 CSB

This doxology at the end of the doctrinal section of Romans is in the form of a prayer. A prayer for the believers in Rome, as well as for anyone else who reads these words. Hope is the focus in this prayer; that the God of hope would cause us to overflow with hope. But Paul does not directly pray for hope. Rather he prayers for what will produce hope within us.

The first step in this process is that we believe in the God of hope. We should not expect God to do anything for us if we are not walking in faith. Paul prays that as we believe, God would fill us with all joy and peace. Joy and peace come, not from external circumstances, but through relationship with God. We can have real joy and real peace only when we are walking with the one who made us. But all too often we allow the troubles and cares of this world to intrude, dampening our joy and peace. Seeking to have God fill us with joy and peace is not a one time request. It should be the ongoing desire of the believers heart.

The end result of being filled with joy and peace is that we will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Hope is not just a wishful desire. Rather it is a confidence in what God has awaiting us. And that hope grows in the soil of joy and peace, tended by the Holy Spirit. If your hope is weak, seek the joy and peace God will give to those who believe. Then you can know overflowing hope in your life.

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