It’s easy to judge others by their actions as we judge ourselves by our intentions.
Character development can prove to be a challenging and uphill climb. We want to do well but sometimes find it difficult to do so.
Some days we are living a life of victory and other days we’re too ashamed to look ourselves in the mirror!
There are days when we’re crushing our financial goals and other days when our budget is busted and we’re disgusted. Such is life.
Thankfully we’ve been given the fruit of the spirit.
The Fruit Of The Spirit
God, in His infinite wisdom, placed in side of each of us the seeds of nine character traits that need to be developed.
The nine fruit are: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
Each of these, as you will soon discover, have a financial element to them. Money touches virtually every area of our lives and God’s grace is quite beneficial to ensure we operate according to His will.
#1 – Love
Non-Christians have two favorite verses that they often quote: Matthew 7:1 and I Timothy 6:10. Often these verses are misquoted or taken totally out of context.
The verse from I Timothy is often misquoted as, “Money is the root of all evil.” That rendering of the verse is incorrect.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (I Timothy 6:10, NIV).
There are several unique definitions for love and they’re often intermingled.
One might declare, “I love pizza!” but that type of love is different than the love one would have for a child.
Jesus informed us that loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, while loving our neighbor as ourselves, was the most important thing we could do. It’s vital to keep love in its proper place.
In the parable of the unjust steward Jesus instructed us to make friends of money.
What does that even mean?
In the context of that entire parable we’re to use our money to plunder hell and populate heaven. Here is a message that I delivered recently that explains it in greater detail.
Make friends of money but do not love it.
#2 – Joy
Joy is not based on our circumstances or situations – that would be happiness. James encouraged us to count it all joy when we fell into trying situations.
We can choose joy or misery.
It’s impossible to avoid difficult financial situations. Each of us will face a situation that tests our faith and at times our sanity. During those times, count it all joy. I know it’s easier said than done but it can be done.
Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; and let them say continually, “Let the Lord be magnified who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant” (Psalm 35:27, NKJV).
It’s okay to win at wealth. According to Psalm 35:27 God takes pleasure in it! I am convinced that we could shout for joy a bit more.
#3 – Peace
Money fights are one of the leading causes of marital friction and ultimately divorce.
I know that things can get nasty when a couple fights about money. Egos are bruised, weaknesses are exposed, dreams are shattered, and hope is deferred.
Peace, as mentioned in the fruit of the spirit, is the absence of or the end of strife. It’s a state of untroubled and undisturbed well being. Doesn’t that sound cozy & comfy?
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful (Colossians 3:15, NIV)
Sounds as though we have a part to play. It’s up to us to allow the peace to rule in our hearts.
Yes, it’s much easier to lash out in anger but that is not peaceful. Our fallen nature wants to cast blame, point fingers, and make sweeping accusations. Those behaviors do not produce peace.
Be thankful. The budget is challenging and sometimes there is more month than money. We all still have reasons to be thankful.
I’ve realized that I am often thinking about things I do not have rather than the countless blessings that I do have. There are billions of people who would gladly trade their problems for mine. When the budget is tough, take some time to truly be thankful for what God has already done.
Allow the peace of God to rule in your heart and family.
#4 – Patience
I totally expected you to skip this one. Few people like to talk about patience. Furthermore, many Christians are superstitious about it. They are convinced that if they mention it, all kinds of crazy things will happen to them. Not true. Yes, we must overcome but God is not a despotic dictator.
Before we go deeper, a definition of patience would be helpful. It’s not having a sunny disposition while waiting at the DMV for half a day. It’s much more than that.
Patience is the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial. A person operating in patience is consistently constant.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4, NKJV).
Bad things, challenging things, and difficult circumstances will find you. You can run but you cannot hide. When these circumstances hit, it’s time to adjust our perspective.
Crying about how life is unfair won’t solve the problem. Actually, it might be prolonged.
When these tests happen count it or consider it joyfully. Why? God is still at work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. He has not give up on us. He’s still working on us! (That’s actually good news!)
I know that it’s difficult. I’m in a season of life where it seems that I have the anti-Midas touch. I feel like Andy in The Office when Michael gave him all of the largest accounts as a going away present. “I’m going to lose them all!”.
Yet, when I fall into these trials I know God is working in me. Patience is being developed and God will reward it.
#5 – Kindness
Kindness, regrettably, does not carry the same gravitas as some of the other fruit of the spirit. Perhaps it is misunderstood. Hopefully after today you will have a newfound appreciation of the persimmon of the fruit of the spirit known as kindness.
The fruit of kindness is having the harmlessness of a dove without the wisdom of the serpent. I chalk it up to that feeling you get when you want to be generous but before your brain kicks and talks you out of it. You simply want to be a blessing.
It’s also the mellowing of our character. As we get older we’re often less antagonistic and more apt to give a person the benefit of the doubt. We’re generally kinder after surviving this thing called life.
#6 – Goodness
Goodness is character energized and expressing itself in action. It’s the desire to DO something. Kindness supplies the idea to be a blessing and goodness puts the plan to action.
Earning money is awesome but we all eventually realize that there is more to life than collecting another dollar. Some desire to change their financial, family tree.
Others want to use resources to start a scholarship or feed children or to start a hospital.
Goodness energizes our kindness and makes things happen.
#7 – Faithfulness
Sadly, faithfulness is not the word I would choose when discussing the money habits of most people.
Almost 80% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Nearly 40% of Americans could not cover a $400 emergency with cash.
However, these same people have luxuries that people just twenty years ago did not enjoy.
The average car payment is now over $550 per month. Car loans are easy to get. I know many twenty + year olds who are driving cars that are new – and they have the payment to prove it. They have little discretionary income as much of it spent before it is earned.
Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful (I Corinthians 4:2, NKJV).
Financial faithfulness is not a mere suggestion. The language Paul uses is quite strong. Faithfulness is required.
# 8 – Gentleness
Gentleness gets a bad rap just like kindness.
In some translations the word meekness is used instead of gentleness. Yep, not much better. However both words are powerful!
We’re told that Moses was meek. Moses marched into Pharaoh’s palace and bossed him around! We read in the Psalms and in the Sermon on the Mount that the meek shall inherit the earth. Not too shabby.
Jesus described Himself as gentle. Gentle doesn’t mean soft. A gentle person is not a pushover.
The one who has fully developed the fruit of gentleness is powerful and is fully aware of the power. Jesus entered Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey – lowly and gentle. He was fully aware of who He was and the power at His disposal. At His disposal, were legions of angels who could have wiped out humanity. He chose the route of gentleness.
There is no need to brag about money or wealth. No need to use wealth as weapon against others.
Exalting ourselves based on financial scorekeeping is bad form and quite tacky. Remain humble. We’re simply managing God’s resources. He is trusting you with it. Run it like He would run it – gently.
For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? – I Corinthians 4:7
#9 – Self Control
I’m a firm believer in living a life free from debt. The Bible never mentions debt in a positive manner. The borrower is slave to the lender.
Living a life free of debt can be challenging because debt is a ubiquitous method of financing a life style we cannot afford. Willingly going into debt (bondage) could be viewed as being discontent with God’s provision.
We feel as though we deserve a European vacation but the cash is not available. The siren song of Visa and MasterCard can be seductive. Before we know it we’re charging coffee and croissants at a bistro in the Latin Quarter of Paris.
Self-control is the fruit of the spirit that requires us to roll up our sleeves. This is the one that takes discipline. Jesus said if we wanted to be His disciple we would need to deny ourselves daily. Easy? Nope. Worth it? Yes.
Gifts of the Spirit are given but the fruit of the spirit must be developed.
If we dig deep we could witness dramatic financial results simply by developing the fruit of the spirit in our lives. These traits are inside each of us.
Let’s ensure they blossom.