Do you ever feel guilty for bearing the fruit of the Spirit?
It’s a weird question, but hang in here with me for a few minutes while I explain. I’ve been reading a new book called ReFresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands by Shona and David Murray (Crossway). The first paragraph shocked me. It reads:
“Overwhelmed. Exhausted. Depressed. Panicky. Stressed. Burned Out. Broken. Paralyzed. Drowning. Empty. […] These are the most common words I’ve heard Christian women use to describe themselves and their lives.
Whatever happened to the words peaceful, calm, joyful, content, quiet, rested, refreshed, and fulfilled?” (p.11)
What shocked me was not that Christian women would describe themselves using the first set of words. What shocked me was my own response.
I realized I wouldn’t dare describe myself with the second set of words.
I mean, can you imagine someone asking how you are and telling them: “I’m full of joy. I’m full of peace. I feel content, rested, and fulfilled.” They would wonder what was wrong with you! Surely they would judge you for being lazy. They would think you must be surrounded by a magical force field of blessing that prevented you from experiencing real-life problems. Or they might conclude you were faking it.
But when did it become wrong – even in our Christian circles – to be filled with the Spirit?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV)
There’s no law against being joyful and at peace. There’s no law against being a kind and patient person. There’s no law against remaining faithful to our God, our church, and our family, even when we don’t like how things are going.
There’s no law, but there are enemies. Satan. Our own flesh. And the world.
The world keeps telling us we need to be busy, busy, busy. We need to neglect sleep for the sake of productivity. We need to exchange meaningful friendship and accountability for likes, pins, and hearts. We need stronger resumes at the expense of weaker families. And we always need more. More stuff. More entertainment. More activity.
Want to guess what the result is? “Overwhelmed. Exhausted. Depressed. Panicky. Stressed. Burned Out. Broken. Paralyzed. Drowning. Empty.”
Don’t listen to the world. We are called to be different. Counter-cultural. Exiles in our own land. “Peaceful, calm, joyful, content, quiet, rested, refreshed, and fulfilled.”
I’m not suggesting we should describe ourselves that way while we continue to pursue the world’s demands. I’m suggesting we make some radical changes to our lives to prioritize the Spirit. Things like: resting, worshiping, meditating on God’s Word, deepening our friendships, enjoying creation, spending time with our families, and serving others. At the expense of other things.
That means people might think something is wrong with us. They might accuse us of being lazy or of having easy lives or of faking it.
They might even accuse us of being Christians.
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