Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version, ©2010)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
I find that the main thing that gets in the way of my having these fruits of the spirit are NOT the acts of the flesh which the writer condemns a few verses prior (19-21), but rather the WORRIES of the flesh.
but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
I don’t know about others, but for me, it is the worries of life that make me tense and cranky, unkind, stingy, short, self-focused, & ultimately unhappy. It is despair or self-pity that short-circuit my ability to be generous to others in the form of money, possessions, empathy, & mirth. Additionally, the more I feel I’m suffering and allow myself to give in to despair, the more likely I am to abandon self control and the other fruits of the spirit in a feeble attempt to “feel better” - to throw up my hands and do whatever gets me through the day.
Jesus’ teachings on this point are crucial. Boy oh boy, do I wish I could really learn to live this consistently over time:
Matthew 6:24-34 (New International Version, ©2010)
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.