Fruit of the Spirit

Kingdom Fruitfulness (Part II)

In our spiritual journey, we often find ourselves eagerly awaiting the fruits of our labor, akin to impatiently expecting a seed to bear fruit immediately after planting. Just as a seed requires time, nurturing, and patience before blossoming into a fruitful tree, so too do our lives require a similar process of growth and development in order for us to become His instruments of love in the earth! …

The Fallacy of Self-Improvement (Part III)

Self-efort may help to develop some of the gifts and talents that God has blessed us with, but it can’t develop the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Only the Lord and His process can produce the fruit of the Spirit!

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

Our self-effort can bring about natural success and even ministry success, but it will not produce Christ-likeness in our lives. While we need to do our part in growing in God, some of us take it to a whole another level and live as if our growth depends entirely on us.

There are those who are on the self-improvement cycle, and a causal observer can deem them impressive.  However, some of these individuals, who appear very mature and knowledgeable, under pressure their character caves in. Some become a bully and intimidating.  Some may gossip about others because they are not getting their way. Others seem calm and collected until someone challenges them and steps on their toes. Then they become aggressive and go for the jugular. Others are intent on competing, deceiving, exaggerating, or lying about their accomplishments to ensure they remain impressive. It is hard to develop the fruit of the Spirit and, at the same time,  walk in carnality!

If you are a driven person, most likely, you are ready to improve anything that is suggested to you. However, not every improvement is from God, and neither should we assume that self-improvement is the solution. Also, we should consider the fact that sometimes our drive to self-improve is because we want to remain in control of the extent and the speed of our growth.

How do we grow without getting into the trap of self-improvement!?

  1. Use your quiet time to get to know Jesus and what He desires in your life. Don’t seek out the scriptures for head knowledge or to be impressive with your depth.
  2. Avoid copying others. Copying someone else is about self-improvement. We all should learn from each other, but we can’t copy others. We are not a product to be duplicated.  A person’s character has to develop over time and through God’s dealings. Choose to wait on the Lord and let Him develop the fruit of the Spirit in you.
  3. Remind yourself that each person’s path is different, and it is not wise to compare yourself to others. Furthermore, you don’t know if others are truly developing in character or if they are also on the self-improvement track. The Comparison makes one believe the lie that they are falling behind or are getting too old. God used many of the Biblical characters well into their 80s.
  4. Refrain from boasting and sharing about what you do in ministry.  Let it remain between you and the Lord. This will help you not to be tempted by man’s applause and to be compelled to gain their applause.
  5. Your title or position should not be your badge of importance. Don’t allow your title or position to change your identity as a much-loved child. If being a child of God does not give you enough importance, you will fall into the trap of self-improvement to maintain your position or worthiness.
  6. Have conversations with God that give Him room to speak. Choose to be quiet and allow God to speak to you. Refrain from doing all the talking.
  7. Learn to say “no” or “yes” as the Lord leads not what seems important or popular to those around you.
  8. Refrain from reading all the posts on social media about those who toot their own horn. That will just drive you to do more and become impressive.

We are all going to be tempted to improve ourselves. However,  when we become aware of it, then we can stop going down that path. Instead, we can pray and surrender ourselves to the Lord, so that He can develop the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. The fruit of the Spirit will develop over time and over various seasons. God has the timetable, and our job is to cooperate with the process and let Him make us ripe and sweet!