7 Healthy Ways to Resolve Relationship Conflict

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds."

2 Corinthians 10:3-4

For the sake of this writing, I will focus on the husband-and-wife relationship, however, you can use these tips for navigating conflict in all relationships!

First off, the battle is not with your spouse, that friend, the coworker, or whomever.  

The battle is not against flesh and blood

(Eph. 6:12).

If the battle is not against flesh and blood, that then removes humans TOTALLY from the battleground. 

Yet, sometimes, in the HEAT of the moment, it’s not that simple to remember. That truth made me ask myself: What are some things you can start training yourself to do so you don’t fall for Satan’s bait? 

FIRST:  BE SLOW TO ANGER! 

Learning how to maintain or gain control of yourself might take time. That’s okay. I encourage you to ask the Father and the Holy Spirit to help you with this. However, I hope this article helps you understand the biblical truths into that conflict!

 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly (silliness/foolishness) (Proverbs 14:29).

Why does God want us to be slow to anger? Well, for one, it can keep those evil spirits out of you, and secondly, we are to imitate Christ! Christ only got angry at the spirits inside of people! But, let’s talk about the first reason, accidentally coming into agreement with the evil spirits behind the conflict. Again, it’s straightforward to forget the truth that we are not and NEVER will fight against humans but against those spirits.

When in conflict with people, your brain thinks you are in conflict with that person, but you are actually in conflict with the spirits within that individual. These spirits can control a person when the person gives consent. (It can be easy to give consent too). You won’t always see the spirits inside of the person, except for when those spirits are tormenting that person. If you are not careful, those spirits will manifest in you. What happens next is, both you and the person you think you are in conflict with will have spirits playing back and forth in what feels like a war zone, and you both become the victims! You both lose. The Devil has you both, and you are both experiencing his fruit: destruction, death, fear, and evil. I promise God does not want this. He wants love, compassion, sacrifice, mercy, and grace. 

You are wanted as a medium of expression for the principalities and powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places.  Remember, Satan, and his kingdom cannot manifest in the physical dimension unless they have a vessel. Until those spirits have a vessel, they are caught in a place of torment themselves, between heaven and earth. The evil spirits only have thoughts of evil but with no way to express it. They can get you to agree with them by sending that thought through your mind and hoping you use your free will to grab on to it! The manifestation looks like saying that mean or unforgiving comment or accusing your spouse of doing something, and so forth, which leads me to the second thing you can do. 

SECOND: CAST DOWN ALL IMAGINATIONS OR THOUGHTS THAT ARE AGAINST GOD’S NATURE

That is why Paul reminds the Corinthians of what to do when evil comes into your mind, and it’s true for us today! 

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Cor. 10:5).

You are to hold every thought captive, casting it down and grasping it. I imagine myself tearing wallpaper down and throwing it out the door! 

Now pay attention because here is where many of the spiritual warfare teachings stop short. They teach you how to do warfare, but they do not teach you how to be obedient to God. 

Verse six says: And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled (2 Cor 10:6).  

You cannot have power over the Devil in spiritual warfare if you first have not fulfilled obedience to God’s Word. Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I am NOT talking about legalism here. It’s impossible to keep the law perfectly, but God cannot change nor lie either. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (Eph. 2:8)

The Father will not heal you and let you keep the fear that’s causing your problems (Romans 12:2). If God did this, it would make Him unholy. It’s impossible to defeat the Devil if you will not fully submit yourself to the Father. 

THREE: SUBMIT YOURSELF TO GOD

James says, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

Praise the Lord the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will walk with you and teach you how to do this way better than any human could! 

Let me ask you, Where do you need to submit to the Father when you are in conflict with your spouse, sibling, friend, or whomever? Where could reminding yourself you are a disciple of Christ help you reflect God’s light in moments of conflict? 

Much of what the Father asks us to do requires stepping out in faith and trusting Him that His ways will be best, which is why we are to be obedient to Him! 

FOUR: SLOW TO SPEAK

… Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (James 1:19)

 As a mental health practitioner, I can confidently say that most of the disputes/conflicts people have in ALL their relationships result from miscommunication! Isn’t the devil the author of confusion and perversion? 

When you are slow to speak, a few neat things naturally happen! First, you will naturally think about what you are about to say. Second, you will have more control in confirming that your words are edifying to that individual (Eph. 4:29). Third, you can respond with compassion, grace, and mercy, just as the Father does with you! Four, you can think about ways to listen to what the individual is saying and work to find an agreement! 

Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? (Amos 3:3)

To walk together, you MUST lay your pride down (Proverbs 13:10) and listen to find understanding (James 1:8). When you find understanding, you can walk with that person in agreement (Amos 3:3). When you walk in agreement, you can begin to communicate accurately. It becomes easier to listen to one another open-mindedly and compassionately because you know you are for one another instead of against! When you know someone is for you – well, that creates a lot less stress!

If you want to remain in a healthy, loving, and passionate relationship, you will need to learn how to do this. It’s a skill. It takes work. It takes conscious practice. Slow down. Ask questions that help you both better understand where the miscommunication has occurred. 

📖👉 Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm (Psalm 37:8). 👈 📖

FIVE: HAVE AN UNCONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD FOR OTHERS

Stop thinking worst-case scenario. Love is a choice, just like thinking the worst-case scenario is one too!

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (1 Cor. 13:7). 

It can be challenging to remember the one you are in conflict with is someone who wants the best for you. Do your best to remind yourself that your spouse also chose to be with you too! Assume best-case scenario. Take a second, breath, count down from 31 (as an emotion can only last 30 seconds before it does become your choice to carry it out). 

SIX: COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY

But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil (Matt. 5:37)

Say what you mean and nothing more! 

It’s important to remember communication can be hard to understand because we think in images, not words! Some words create concrete pictures in our minds, and others are more abstract.

For instance, the word “chair” is clearly depicted in your mind within nanoseconds. Yet, words like “justice” or “hope” take longer to form in the mind. It can also be the same with words like that draw a picture in our mind, but maybe not the specific image you meant. Maybe when you said “dog,” your spouse went to Shih-Tzu, where you meant Lab!

One of the best things you can say to your spouse in a spat saturated in miscommunication is: What did you hear, What do you see in your mind, or Can you paint the picture you see from what I have said?

 Additionally, abstract words will be influenced by the individual’s beliefs. Therefore, when you say abstract words, make sure you communicate precisely what that word means in your mind. Don’t assume your spouse gets it. 

SEVEN: FIGHT HEALTHY & WANT THE OTHER TO WIN!

Remind each other you for them. One of the best ways you can learn to fight with your spouse is by having this attitude: You have to want them to win, and they have to want you to succeed. When that occurs, you both are winning, practicing sacrifice, and showing self-less love. The Father sacrificed His Son for you, don’t be surprised that He asks us to sacrifice things in relationships too! 

The goal in romantic relationships is to always help the one you love to win! Love sacrifices, now that does not mean you are not to have boundaries. However, we will talk about limits another time. And if you both are willing to do what’s best for the other, you both will win. Have each other’s back and help each other become better, not bitter! 

Relationships can be challenging at times, especially if you struggle with self-righteousness. However, if you can focus on all the good things your partner does for you, instead of all the things he/she does to annoy you, you might naturally strengthen your relationship!

📖👉 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11). 👈 📖

P.S: If you enjoyed this blog, I would be incredibly grateful if you could take just 30 seconds to share this blog with a friend on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Tag @RenewMinistriesOnline in the share, too, please! God bless you! 😇🙏🏼.

How You Know You’re Thankful for Christ!

How You Know You're Thankful for Christ!

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.

— Proverbs 3:7 NIV

Yesterday America celebrated Thanksgiving. Typically, during the festive and traditional dinner, American families go around the table sharing what they are grateful for in their lives. The most common responses are family, parents, friends, clean water, mobility, and other basic needs that are easily taken for granted. Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect mindfully on all you have in your life. However, there is one BIGBIG thing some people seem to forget and ignore. It’s as if these individuals don’t even think about their gratitude for it! I will admit, I, too, once fell in this bucket! What am I talking about? 

 

Jesus!

 

In John 4:9, Jesus is asking the Samaritan woman to get Him some water from Jacob’s well. Now, Jews and Samaritans didn’t mingle. The Jews, at this time, were prejudice towards the Samaritans. Therefore, she was stunned that He would ask her for water!

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew [about] God’s gift [of eternal life], and who it is who says, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him [instead], and He would have given you living water (eternal life).”

In other words, if the Samaritan woman knew she was talking to God manifested in the flesh, she would have asked Him for a blessing, and Jesus would have given her living water – eternal life. The woman, however, took everything He said literally. She ultimately failed to recognize the Lord in front of her face and the spiritual components intertwined in all aspects of life. God created both the visible and the invisible (Colossians 1:16).

The water Jesus provides – the living water – quenches your thirst forever.  Science has proven that everyone thinks, wonders, and contemplates the concept of God. Regardless, if you want to admit it or not, everyone is wired to have a relationship with God. The enemy has done a fantastic job confusing people about who God is!

 
As disciples of Christ, we know only Jesus can give the gift that satisfies the soul’s desires. 

 

Sometimes my clients tell me how restless their souls are. They tell me they know something bigger and better is out there for them. They declare they will keep searching for that thing to do. Yet, what I believe they are looking and yearning for is a relationship with Christ. All they need to do is accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The thing they need to do is participate in a relationship with Christ.

These clients are almost always secular beings. Like the Samaritan woman, they only see life in the natural, eliminating the most significant reality that this world is spiritual. They are hoping to fill voids within themselves that only Jesus can satisfy.

They do not realize that whatever they do will only keep them hungry and thirsty when what they want is something that will quench them in all areas of life. They are hungry, wanting to be satisfied at a deep, deep level. They are restless in life, wanting more out of life. They want comfort, security, joy, peace, and unconditional love that lasts. Only Jesus can do this, but we, as His disciples, MUST let everyone know about the hope found in Him. Remember, God uses people to bless and help people.

John 4:13: Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. 14 But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water [satisfying his thirst for God] welling up [continually flowing, bubbling within him] to eternal life.”

Let’s pump the breaks and focus on the first clause, Jesus says in John 4:10: “If you knew about God’s gift…” Do you know about God’s gifts? Has the living water quenched your thirst in life?

If your answer is yes, then it’s time to publicly celebrate your appreciation, gratitude, and thankfulness for your Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit! Yes, it might be scary to you, but only because the enemy has sold you a lie that mankind will not like you, reject you, or hurt you, also known as the fear of man. Good thing Jesus reminds us that,No man shall take me out of His hand for I have eternal life (John 10:29).”

The Godhead needs to be the number one thing you are thankful for in your life. If you are genuinely grateful, appreciative, and thankful for God, then you would be sharing Him with everyone! You would be INCREDIBLY hungry to share what God is doing in your life.

Think about it. When you come across a time-saving gadget, don’t you tell your family and friends? When you find a material object that simplifies or brings joy to your life, don’t you tell people about it?

Well, if you are going to tell people about material things, which you know will not sustain the fire on judgment day (1 Corinthians 3:13), then why would you not tell people about what Jesus’ has and is doing in your life (Psalm 1:1-6)?

I don’t know about you, but the Father has done more for me than anything else. I want to tell the world about what He has done for me! He’s so awesome! When you share your God stories, you help encourage and bring people to Christ.

Yes, perhaps it’s too late this year to go around the table and express your gratitude for the Godhead this Thanksgiving. But, it’s never too late to start speaking up about what Jesus has and is doing in your life.

The Gospel tells us we are to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Jesus tells us to go into ALL the world (that means your friends groups, strangers, family, etc.) and preach the Gospel to ALL creation (Mark 16:15). Please notice the word “ALL.” Simply because you feel uncomfortable, or don’t want to, or are unsure how someone might respond doesn’t permit you to not talk about it. Disobedience is a sin! Praise God because once we repent, He forgives us so quickly (1 John 1:9) since we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

What can you start doing? Here are some questions for you to think about, and I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to help you!

  • Who can you start talking to about Jesus and will be open to the message?
  • How can you introduce Jesus to strangers?
  • What God stories can you share with hopeless people?
  • How would you explain God’s love for you?
  • What brought you to Christ? How could that message benefit someone else?

Sometimes we have to learn how to stand on our disciple-legs since it can take time to normalize the discomfort of being bold for Jesus. I encourage you to start with those people in your life who will be more accepting and open to the message than those who confess they don’t believe in God.

What has God done for you that you can share? 


If you aren’t sure, I encourage you to take a few minutes to write down all that God has done in your life. Take a few minutes to reflect and record all that God has done for you. Once you have a solid list, start identifying which people in your life you could share these things with. Additionally, sometimes it can be helpful to have a strategy to talk to strangers about what God has done in your life. Maybe God will place someone in your life who needs guidance understanding the gift of God and the living water.

As disciples of Christ, we are to help disciple one another. We cannot expect a preacher, minister, or teacher to do all the heavy lifting, even though many of us do. We are all to do our part. Isn’t that why we are called the body of Christ? When one thing in your body isn’t working correctly, doesn’t it begin to affect the rest of your body? We must start working together!

Express your gratitude for God this year. Let everyone know how much He has done for you!

Make the decision today to commit to sharing the Gospel with everyone and anyone!


Prayer Starter:
Father, Forgive me if I have failed to showcase my thanksgiving for all you have, are, and will do in my life. I love you so much, Father, and I want to be more like Christ in everything I do. Help me to stay fixed on You and not on the things of this world. Help me express my gratitude for You with everything You do. Please help me share these moments with everyone I come in contact with. Holy Spirit, allow me to remember my God moments to share with those who may need encouragement, hope, or inspiration. Thank you, Father, for sacrificing Your only Son for me. I love you.
In Jesus’ name, Amen!

How to Develop Confidence and Trust in the Almighty

How to Develop Confidence & Trust in the Almighty

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.

— Psalm 33:11 NLT

How well do you trust God? Does your trust in God waver like a boat in a storm? Or does your trust stand firm like a bolder in a tornado?

Trusting God can be tricky – but it doesn’t have to be! I think sometimes people overcomplicate trust by trying to make it something it is not. You first have to understand what godly trust is. The New Oxford American Dictionary (2020) defines trust as: “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something

I don’t know about you, but I now know I can 100% rely on God.  Even if things don’t happen as I would prefer, I know His ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30). I don’t have to understand it. I just want to understand it. Note the difference. 

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

However, I know that sometimes I do not have the spiritual maturity to understand what God is doing. Other times I know He will not tell me. I choose to be okay with that. Ultimately, I believe that God is love, and therefore He wants to help me prosper as long as I abide in Him. Praise the Lord, our desires are the same (Psalm 37:4). The more you seek Him, the more your desires will be His desires as well! 

I love how the definition above has the word “truth” in it. Why? Because of what John 8:32 says, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” It’s easier to trust when you know the truth, but who is the truth? Jesus – God’s Word is (John 1:1).

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth (John 17:17).

Trusting God is also believing in God to keep you safe (Proverbs 29:25). Faith, truth, and trust go hand in hand! If you have faith in God then you will believe God’s word is truth. Once you know the truth (the Word), then it is easier to trust. If you do not get what I am saying, that is okay. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand how to trust God. Sometimes we need a revelation to understand.

How do you develop confidence and trust in the Almighty? It’s simpler than you may think. You make the decision to trust Him and do it.

(This is where Nike’s slogan nails it. JUST DO IT. Don’t think – just do it! Trust God today. Make the decision to do it NOW!This is where God needs your willingness. God respects your free will! The first thing you must do is want to fully and sincerely trust God with all your heart, soul, and mind. That’s step #1 – Make the choice to fully trust God.

Now, you might be thinking, “well, how do I trust God even if I want to?” Great question! You have to get into the Word. You must read the Bible! If you do not know what the truth is, it will be challenging to defeat the lies the enemy will try to sell you. Remember, God is good.

The second thing you must start doing is being 100% truthful to yourself and others. Perhaps this is why the Word encourages disciples of Christ so often to be quick to confess their sins either to the Father and/or to one another (Psalm 38:18; 1 John 1:9; James 5:16).

Your relationship with your own trustworthiness will impact your ability to trust others and God. Think about it. If you are dishonest or lie to others, you will always second guess others because of how you have trained your brain. That is why we are to RENEW our minds to the Word of God (Romans 12:2).

Step #3: Action. Trusting God requires action. The psalmist David spoke many times about how he PUT his trust in God regardless of what was happening around him. David typically said, “I put my trust in You, God…” That means he kept doing it. He kept participating with the truth that he can trust God in everything. I am sure there were days when he had to remind himself every nanosecond to trust God.

At the end of the day, trusting God is the only way!

If you have trauma in your past, it can be harder to trust God, but please don’t confuse the power of God’s trust with humans. God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19), but humans can, and many do. There are plenty of times throughout God’s Word where He reminds you, you can trust Him and that you must! Because trusting God brings mental peace and rest!

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.”
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”

-Psalm 37:4-5

-Proverbs 3:5-6

-Isaiah 26:3-4

Think about it this way. If God is love (1 John 4:8) and love is goodness, beauty, peace, joy, the fruit of the Spirit, and so much more, then trusting God will only bring more goodness into your life! It is easy to trust someone you know who loves you and only wants the best for you. God is incredibly merciful, holy, good, and kind.

Whether you realize it or not, some of you are trusting the devil way more than the Almighty. Any thought that contradicts or goes against the Word of God is an antichrist thought, and it is meant to either kill, steal, or destroy (John 10:10) something from, for, or of you. Trusting God is one of the best things you can do. Trusting God is how you “gain” control of your life. When you can trust God to protect you, redeem the evil done to you, and provide for you, you gain so much more time, peace, and freedom!

Step #4: Never forget that God will always make the wrong things right.

Hebrew 10:30 confirms this: For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” But, there is a catch. For the Father to fulfill His promise, you MUST surrender the ENTIRE situation (150% of it) to Him and not take it back! Do you trust God to make wrong things right?

Please note that while you are trusting God, you will need to have patience and faith. I believe the waiting part is the test – if you will. God cares more about your heart than anything else. God wants to develop your character to be Christ-like. I encourage you to be open, thankful, and grateful for these opportunities because these are the moments where you get to grow! The quote below nails it!

"God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy."

– Rick Warren

Step #5: Record the times God has come through for you! Unfortunately, it is easier for humans to remember what people or the Father have not done for them than what they have done for them. Negativity is powerful to the brain because of all the stimulation it creates. It’s so easy to also buy the devil’s lies, who screams, “God doesn’t love you – You cannot trust Him” in moments where you are feeling desperate and praying for God to move.

Yet, when you keep an ongoing list of all that God has done for you, it is easier to trust Him and defeat the enemy. If you are not writing down the dates when God moves in your life, I encourage you to start doing it now. It will help you deepen your trust in God. If you cannot recall any moments of where God has come through for you, I encourage you to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal those moments to you. I promise there are plenty in your life. If you cannot recall them, then fine, take a leap of faith today, create the list and wait patiently for God to move.

Take the step today to choose to trust God in ALL things. Release the lie today that you cannot trust anyone but yourself. Surrender control over to God so you can gain security and control where it counts.

Prayer: Father God, thank you so much for loving me. Thank you for your patience and guidance. I repent for any time I have been dishonest, lied to, or consciously did not trust You or any of your children. I cancel the ground of lying, dishonesty, and having unbelief towards you. I ask you to help renew my mind and heart to trust you in everything. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me to always trust you. Thank you for giving me your Spirit and forgiving me. I love you, Father, and I trust you! In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Does Your Spirit look Like this….?

Does Your Spirit look Like this….?

Understanding God’s Love Series

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

No one ought to be confident in his own strength when he undergoes temptation. For whenever we endure evils courageously, our long-suffering comes from Christ.

Augustine

The Fruit of the Spirit

Last week, I discussed what the fruit of love is and looks like. The newsletter ended with Galatians 5:22-23, which is the fruit of the Spirit. Today I am going to break down the fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

I understand that it is easy to read these words, but my goal is to make the fruit of the Spirit come alive in your mind’s eye! I am going to do that by breaking down the fruit of the Spirit.

The first piece of the fruit Paul lists out is love. Now, I have already spoken about what love is, but I will share a quick recap.

Love:

God’s love bears little resemblance to the emotional meaning so often given to the world. God’s love is shown by Jesus. I believe love is the foundation for all of the other components of the fruit of the Spirit to gain its richness.

Love is ultimately saying I am going to treat you well because you are a child of God. Think: If God loves you (and He loves all), I will love you too.

God’s love is a choice, and it takes maturity, wisdom, and discernment to walk in. Jesus showed the perfect example of love. I encourage you to create your own Bible Study, where you study how Jesus operates when interacting with people and his disciples. Ultimately Jesus shows love as self-sacrificing and unchanging. The Father demonstrated this kind of love when He sent His only Son for sinners. Can you imagine sacrificing something you love or want so others can be blessed?

Now hope (trust, confidence) does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5; parenthesis are mine).


This is the kind of love, hope, and desire you will need to practice if you want to participate in God’s love. It’s not ALWAYS doing what is best for you, but what is best for others. Now the Father and Jesus provide plenty of examples where they had healthy boundaries and act on those boundaries. Please do not view love as a place for people to walk all over you. At the end of the day, there will be times when you may not do what is best for another because that other person is a stranger to you. That’s fair enough. However, there are always opportunities to act in love toward strangers. It’s the willingness and sacrificial giving of oneself for the benefit of another without thought of return. How can you make sure people benefit for the better when you are around? What are the things you can do?

For starters, you can hold the door for someone. Or you could allow someone in line behind you who has fewer or more items to go in front of you. Additionally, you could buy someone’s food that is in line behind you. You can always create an opportunity where someone benefits without you gaining any return from them.

Love forms the foundation for all the other fruit identified by Paul. If you do not have love as your foundation, you will misrepresent or misuse the other parts of the fruit of the Spirit.

Joy:

Joy is an inner sensation that abides rejoicing despite your external circumstances. Joy comes from God’s presence!

 

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11 NKJV).

Joy is gladness of the heart. There is always something to be glad about. For instance, God loves you. He chose you. He wants you. God is also good. So be glad about that at the very least!

And as the Bible reminds us: Listen, my son, and be wise, and guide your heart on the right course (Proverbs 23:19 NIV). If you are struggling to create a glad heart, then change your thinking. Remember, as a man thinks, so he is (Proverbs 23:7). There is plenty of things to be joyful over.

Therefore, joy becomes a choice.

Understand joy is not happiness. In fact, happiness is fleeting, but joy is everlasting. Believe it or not, no one wants to be happy all the time, but people do want to feel joy. You can be joyful and unhappy. Joy is not dependent on happiness.

According to Ed Diener (2013), (the world’s leading expert on subjective well-being), happiness contains both an affective (feeling) component and a cognitive (sensation) component. Happiness is more of an experience, you could say. It is best thought of as the total amount of pleasant emotions people feel, plus their cognitive evaluation of how satisfied they are with their life as a whole or with a specific aspect of their life, such as job, marriage, or hobbies (Dean & Biswas-Diener, 2013). Think of happiness as the experience of frequent, mildly to highly pleasant emotions, the relative absence of unpleasant feelings, and a general sense of satisfaction with one’s life.

Joy is having gladness or delighting in the Lord.

….for the joy of the LORD is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).


In Psalms 16:9, David says, “No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety (NLT).” David had found the secret to joy. Regardless of what is going on externally in your life, you can feel real joy (God’s joy). Despite your deepest troubles, David understood that his relationship with God determined his outlook in life. Some people base their happiness and joy on external circumstances. Doing so is stupid, reckless, and dangerous! Why would you allow others, events, and other variables you cannot control to dictate your internal joy, peace, or happiness? That seems scary and like a losing battle! That’s like putting a sign in the front of your house, that says, Come on in, and take whatever you want from me! The result of allowing external stimuli to dictate your internal peace is a rollercoaster from hell that you cannot get off of until you change your mindset.

It’s by celebrating God’s daily presence and what He has done for you! This is how you will find contentment and joy. As you walk with God and He unfolds His plans for you, I promise your joy will increase and grow strong. Remember, disciples, are to base their joy and life on God, not circumstances.

In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

 

Peace:

Peace is an inner quietness, trust, and stillness in God’s sovereignty and His promises (Word). The fruit of peace in work in your life is the tranquility of your mind, which in turn frees you from worry or fear. It is holding on to what Romans 8:28 declares:


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Peace is the profound agreement with the Bible’s word and that God remains in charge of the universe. Allow God’s peace to enter your heart (Colossians 3:15). He has you. He loves you. Let Him have your worries and stay focused on today.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you (1 Peter 5:7 NLT).

Longsuffering (Patience):

Simply put, it’s controlling yourself and how you respond or react when you are exposed to annoying, frustrating, and inconvenient things. It’s being comfortable with being uncomfortable. I promise the Holy Spirit will increase your endurance and help you successfully deal with the things that annoy you. You have to want this too! Free will is real!

Please note longsuffering is more of a marathon or lifestyle change than a race. You have to train for it! In short, patience or longsuffering has restraint or calmness with others. It is the opposite of a short temper. It is quietly and calmly handling or processing disposition and or bearing injury.

Kindness (Gentleness):

Kindness is acting charitably or benevolently towards others, as God does towards you. Kindness is responding to other people’s needs. Think – acts of kindness. Or merely being attentive to the needs of those you love and care for, but also strangers. There are some basic needs that we all have in common. Help people meet those needs.

A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself (Proverbs 11:17)

Goodness:

Goodness is responding to do nice and considerate things to others, REGARDLESS if they deserve it or not. Goodness does not react to evil but absorbs the offense and responds with a positive or loving response/action. Goodness is generosity! What are some ways you can be generous to your loved ones and to strangers?

 If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also [for the Lord repays the offender].  And whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you (Matthew 5:40-24). 

The last three fruit pieces are more general character traits that need to be valued by Christ’s followers. Values are personally chosen life directions. It’s your moral compass.

Faithfulness:

Faithfulness is having faith in others and God. Seeing the best-case scenario, not the worst. What Paul also means is being dependable. Keeping your word and doing what you say you are going to do. If you asked everyone in your life if you are reliable and trustworthy, what would they say?

Gentleness (meekness):

Think of humility. Think of how John the Baptist was. Gentleness is being considerate of others or mindful. One can still get angry as Jesus did in the temple but remain in control of him or herself and respond with love. Please note Jesus was not angry at the people, but at the sin. And, who is the Father of sin?

Self-control:

Self-control (self-discipline, sound mind, temperance) is having discipline or victory over the lusts of the flesh, the ability to harness and control one’s passions and lusts. I do believe this is why the Father encourages fasting. It takes discipline to not buy into those hunger pains or follow the carnal mind’s cravings.

Self-control means having the restraint not to do something even though your flesh desires it. While self-discipline sucks at the moment, in the long run, it feels great. However, not developing self-discipline can cost a person his or her life. Ironically, it is those sinful desires or lust of the flesh that provide an illusion of fulfillment and power but only lead us to slavery and the fruit of the devil.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (1 John 2:16). 

The best way to see where you are with the fruit of the Spirit is to rate yourself on a scale of 1-5.

(1) never true of me; (2) rarely true of me; (3) occasionally true of me; (4) frequently true of me; (5) Always true of me.

  1. I respond from a place of love, regardless of my annoyance or dislike for the individual.
  2. I am joyful.
  3. I do not worry or fear many things. Instead, I have peace (calmness/tranquility) inside of me.
  4. I am a patient person.
  5. I am a charitable and kind person.
  6. I am nice and considerate to everyone, not just those I like.
  7. I am a dependable and trustworthy person.
  8. I am courteous and considerate in my relationship with others.
  9. I am a disciplined person. I harness and control my passions and lusts.

The assessment above provides insight into how well you are operating in the fruit of the Spirit. Remember, you do not need to do this alone. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him (Philippians 2:13 NLT). Allow God to work through you. Today I encourage you to take a few minutes to pray to God, asking Him which fruit do you need to consciously work to improve in? He will tell you, and when you start to do what God wants, life gets better!

Prayer: Father, I want to grow spiritually and emotionally. I do not want to be enticed by the world’s ways. I do not wish to adopt worldly behavior but Jesus’ behavior. I want to do Your will and not my own. Help me to use Your strength to grow and operate in the fruit of the Spirit. In moments of weakness, please correct me and show me how to respond – how to represent You and Your glory. Father, Thank You for all You have done in my life. Thank You for helping me grow in the fruit of the Spirit. In Jesus’ name Amen.

Reference: Dean, B., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2013). Positive psychology coaching. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.