But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
None of us likes tests but here is one that is easy to take and very beneficial. I call it the Spiritual Maturity Test. In fact, it is a test that is so effective, I recommend taking it at least once per day. Not only will the test reveal your progress toward spiritual maturity but it will also reveal deficiencies in your Christian character that require your attention.
Additionally, taking the test will make you better equipped to handle all of life’s demanding situations while maintaining Christ-honoring behavior in all of life’s challenges. The test lowers stress and helps you maintain a healthy perspective no matter how difficult the situation.
To take the Spiritual Maturity Test you must first memorize Galatians 5:22-23. If memorization is not your thing you can write it on a piece of paper and keep it with you at all times.
Step 1: Get alone with God. The test must be taken prayerfully with God as the administrator. Confess your sins, ask for forgiveness, and ask God to examine your Christian character.
Step 2: Identify the rough spots in your life. As you go before Him consider the areas of your life of greatest difficulty. Probe your life experiences deeply. What is causing the most stress in your life right now? What are the most difficult circumstances that you are facing? Who are the people who are putting your faith and witness to the test? What or who are you facing that is particularly troublesome?
Step 3: Examine the quality of the fruit. Once you have identified the rough places in your life then examine each aspect of “the fruit of the spirit” as it relates to the rough places in your life. Take them one at a time.
- Love– Are you loving others as you should (especially those who are causing you the greatest difficulty)? Does your behavior in your circumstances reflect your love for God?
- Joy– Are you maintaining a consistent level of joy or are you having a pity party, depressed, or angry? If you are truly trusting God then you have cause for joy.
- Peace– Are you striving to be the peacemaker? Are you at peace with God or are you walking in willful disobedience? Again…truly trusting God in your circumstance will produce peace.
- Patience– Patience comes by trusting and waiting on God. Are you trying to force things to happen or patiently waiting for God’s guidance and provision?
- Goodness– Are you maintaining good behavior? Even though others are treating you badly does not give you license to act in like manner. Not only are you doing good, but are you looking for the good? Sometimes our lives are thrown spiritually off balance because we are seeing only the bad. Look for the good in situations and people.
- Faithfulness– Are you remaining faithful to God and His way of living as you face your challenges? Are you seeking to keep Him first in your life? Are you remaining faithful to your responsibilities?
- Kindness– Are you exhibiting kindness toward others, even those who are causing you difficulty?
- Gentleness– Are you dealing with others in gentleness or are you snappy, harsh, grouchy, and irritable? Beware of meanness as a response to difficult people and situations.
- Self-control– Are you surrendered to God and allowing the Spirit of God to rule your life or are you allowing another spirit to take control? Self-control for a Christian is surrendered control to God’s influence, authority, and instruction.
Step 4: Work on you weaknesses: I’ve been going through this exercise for years, and I have never handled every situation perfectly. There will always be something for you to work on. In areas where you are really struggling share that with God and ask for His help.
Step 5: Repeat this process often: I recommend taking this test daily until it becomes firmly established as a way of approaching all of life’s tough situations and difficult people
It is important for you to understand that the Holy Spirit of God resides in you. Your objective is to appropriate and access God’s indwelling Spirit that you might produce “the fruit of the Spirit.” It is who you are in Christ but to produce this incredibly desirable fruit, you must cultivate it properly with love and patience.
Remember that an important aspect of the fruit growing process is pruning. Just hang in there and remain faithful to God. Spiritual maturity is a beautiful thing and beneficial to all who partake of this incredibly desirable fruit. Essentially what you want to be able to do is get out of the way and let the Spirit live through you.
For more on this topic, check out this article: How to Walk by the Spirit
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.