The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23

Against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:23

Have you ever had the experience of driving on a road where you didn’t know what the speed limit is? I got on a freeway in rural California and didn’t know if the limit was 55 or 65 or 70. So I wondered how fast I should drive. I reached my conclusion (until I saw the next sign) based on two things. First, is it safe? If I were to drive at the same speed as the other cars on the freeway, that would seem to be safe. Driving faster or slower than the rest of the cars would not be safe. Second, was it logical/smart? I know there is no state (save maybe Montana) where the posted speed limit is over 70. And there is no place where the posted speed limit on a freeway is less than 55. So, safety and logic dictated what I should do when I honestly didn’t know what to do.

There are other experiences in life where we will also not know what exactly the right thing to do is. How aggressive is too aggressive on the athletic field or in the office or in a contentious situation? Is it worth the fight (and collateral damage) to argue about something or do I just let it go? How do I balance work responsibilities and still have a family life? How much do I praise and encourage versus how much do I scold and correct the behaviors of my child?

The answer to these questions and many others can be found by using the Fruit of the Spirit as a guide. In my speed limit example above, I used two questions – is it safe, and is it smart – as guides for help in making a decision. Add the nine Fruits of the Spirit as your guides when making decisions. You don’t have to use all nine of them. Using even one will be effective.

Is what I am doing showing love to God and to my neighbor?

Will this decision bring joy or sadness to others? How can joy figure into this decision?

Will this decision promote peace?

Am I making a rash decision? Am I showing patience in thinking this through? Have I shown patience to my neighbor in making this decision?

Am I being kind? Am I correcting with kindness or consternation? Can I be encouraging while still correcting?

Does this decision reflect goodness? Does it reflect the goodness of God, or the goodness He has put in me? Does it help the general good of others?

Can I make this decision and be a faithful Christian at the same time?

Does what I am doing reflect a gentle spirit or a heavy hand?

Does my decision keep me in control of my emotions as well as my Christian values? Have I left room for God’s input in this decision or is it all me?

Saint Paul was very purposeful in the words that follow the “Fruit of the Spirit,” when he wrote “against such there is no law.” And that is true. When you make your decisions factoring in the Fruit of the Spirit, not only will you be safe and smart but you are going to be making decisions that are holy, pleasing to God and helpful to your neighbor. Are all of our decisions easy? Absolutely not. Can using the Fruit of the Spirit to help guide them make them easier and more Godly? Absolutely yes. Again, you don’t have to consider all nine in making a decision. Using even one on a consistent basis will make a difference.

I read somewhere that we make about 75 decisions each day, and about 40 of them are important. Deciding whether to eat chicken or steak on your taco is not an important decision. We make 35 unimportant decisions each day. But we make about 40 important ones. Stopping for a moment to pray and to evaluate an important decision based on even ONE of the Fruit of the Spirit can be a game-changer for your life and the decisions you make.

Lord, thank You for the blessings of this day. Help me to remember the Fruit of the Spirit in the decisions I make today. Help me to grow love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in my heart and soul and to use these tools to make decisions that will please You and show love for my neighbor. Give me the discipline to take that extra second to think of these Fruit when making decisions today. Amen.

Use at least one of the Fruit of the Spirit as you evaluate your important decisions today!

+Fr. Stavros