JESUS ONLY: Part 2 (Day 25)
Watching for the Growth
As we continue to explore the new ways of being towards our family, we need to remember that heart change happens by the work of Jesus. We can’t force the fruit of the Spirit to appear in our lives, or change ourselves to be more like Jesus, and we certainly can’t change others. It is solely a work of God in our lives to produce the fruit of the Spirit. However, we also need to acknowledge that the fruit of the Spirit needs soil to grow in, and the sort of “life soil” we cultivate will determine how bountiful our crop is.
Earlier in Colossians 3, we looked at some of the old ways of being that we are to put off, and the new ways of being that we are to put on. This is the soil that we must cultivate. It is worth looking back at that list, because it is Paul’s lead-in to his instructions for families:
"So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy … Don’t lie to each other… Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him…. you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. … Above all, clothe yourselves with love… And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. … And always be thankful." - Colossians 3:5-15 (NLT)
That is quite the list! It almost seems impossible, especially when it comes to our family. On more than one occasion, I have reflected on the following question: Why do we treat strangers better than we treat our family members? I’m not sure I’ve come up with a satisfactory answer to that question, but I am certain that it is easiest to be careless when it comes to the people we live with. Tenderhearted mercy? You don’t know how my brother wronged me! Patience? Have you met my kids? Gentleness? I’ll start being gentle when my spouse starts being gentle with me!
We kick and struggle, and maybe even feel like giving up, at the enormity of the task, but if we sit quietly for a moment, I am confident that we would hear Jesus say, “Yes, this list is for you. If my fruit is going to flourish in you, you must do the hard work of a gardener preparing the soil, weeding, and watering. I want you to be more like me.” It is slow work. It doesn’t happen all in one week, or one year, or even in one decade. But even as we work on our own soil, Jesus appears beside us as a helping hand, pointing out our weeds, showing us where the soil needs amending, and bit by bit, in tiny increments, we see the changes begin to take place in our lives. And you know what’s amazing? Not only do those changes affect us, but they affect everyone around us – including our family.
Which of the list of old behaviors do you need the most help putting off?
Which of the list of new behaviors do you need most help with putting on, especially when it comes to relating to one or more of your family members?