As a mom there are certain moments in your life where you feel like you are actually doing a good job. A few weeks ago I received a Facebook message from a fellow mom about my daughter. Her son and my daughter are in the same third grade classroom. Recently, her son was moved to my daughter’s table, and she’d noticed a change in her son. “My son has come home happy every day, and he has been telling me how joyful your daughter is all the time. Please tell her that her joy is contagious.”
I was literally in tears reading the message because life has been hard since the pandemic started in 2020. As a healthcare worker, a mom, and a pastor’s wife, I’ve had a hard time finding joy, and I’ve often wondered how my fatigue and stress have impacted my children.
Could they sense the change in me and in the world around them?
I could fake the joy at work and church but not at home. But the sweet message I received began to erase some of my mom guilt, and I was overcome with hope that my kids still had joy that was overflowing from them.
When my daughter came home that day, I read the message to her, and she was so happy. She responded, “Mom, I didn’t even know I was doing that. I wasn’t even trying!” I looked deep into her eyes and told her, “That is exactly how it works!”
I would be lying if I told you that I lived my life out this way. To be honest, for a long time I strived to live the life a good Christian should. I would try so hard to be patient and kind, but I would always fail. By the time I left my house in the morning and hit traffic, I was back at square one. My striving often left me feeling inadequate and exhausted.
It took me a long time to understand this truth: I can’t do it on my own. I know that sounds rather discouraging, but it was very freeing. I wasn’t failing at being a good Christian. I was just operating in my own strength and skills, when I was actually supposed to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to help me be more like Christ.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” These are not traits that we can own or create in and of ourselves through behavior; it is work that the Holy Spirit does as He sanctifies us. When we try to do it on our own, it seems like a daunting moral checklist, but when we abide in the Spirit, the Spirit’s power produces it in us, making us look like Jesus.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5 (ESV)
My daughter wasn’t trying to be joyful; she was simply being herself. And the joy she had overflowed to those around her. Her joy was no longer hers alone. It was also for the little boy who sat by her, who then took it home to his mom, who shared it with me.
Romans 7:4 reminds us that one of the purposes of every Christian is to bear fruit for God. Just as a tree that bears fruit helps attract and nourish those around it, the fruit of the Spirit in us does the same.
Friend, if you have been trying in your own power to display the fruit of the Spirit and you are tired, I want to invite you to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit within you. It is less about actions and more about abiding. It is less about our own strength and more about His transformational power. As we dwell in Christ, our anxiety will give way to peace. Instead of anger, we will respond in love. And instead of greed and selfishness, we will choose goodness and kindness.
The Holy Spirit is the gift whom Jesus promised would be our Helper, and He is available to all who belong to Christ. I pray you receive His power today and that others would taste the sweetness of the fruit you bear as you abide in Him.Leave a Comment