At the same time, through the season of Lent I'd been doing a daily reflection/self-examination* that includes praying through the list of the 'fruit' that God grows in the lives of those who follow Jesus:
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.
Suddenly, something dawned on me. These character traits that God grows in his followers are exactly the kind of character traits you need in order to live the kind of life described in Proverbs. In other words, God himself actually gives us what we need to live the kind of life he requires of us! I found that really exciting and encouraging :-)
*In case anyone's interested, my Lent reflection was based on two of the exercises from this study from Lyfe in the UK. Most days I spent about 15 minutes going through the following:
Spend some time with God each day, ask him to purify your heart and mind through the power of the Holy Spirit. Be willing to surrender to God.I found it a really helpful and productive process.
You may want to ask him questions such as:
- What words have I used that have hurt others?
- What actions or activities have I engaged in that are unhelpful or block my relationship with you?
- What ‘fruits’ needs to grow in me: characteristics such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?
Holiness grows out of prayers like these.
Looking to tomorrow, take time to consider who or where God might want you to serve. What opportunities might arise where you can resist being the first, best or most important person? Are there situations at home, work or in everyday life where you can serve others tomorrow? Are there times where you can allow others to be first? Pray for the grace to be able to lay aside pride and take the place of a servant.