Recently I read about a survey taken at a men's conference. They were given 50 character qualities (such as 'courageous,' 'confident,' 'decisive,' 'grateful,' 'gentle,' 'teachable') and told to pick the 10 they believed were the most important for a Christian to develop. Now, like all such surveys, there was a sting in the tail. The true purpose was to see how many of the Fruits of the Spirit made it into the top 10. Well, by that standard, the survey was a disaster. In most cases, not a single one of the Fruits of the Spirit made it into a respondent's top 10. And in no case were all 9 Fruits listed in one response.
This survey result got me thinking about what we think is important. Those values that we think of as most necessary and valuable are the values we put time and energy into developing. But that which we hold as having less importance will also get less of our focus and commitment. The Fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22–23). Now...be honest with yourself...if I hid these 9 qualities in a list with 41 others, how many of them would truly have made your top 10? Or, to ask the question a different way, how much attention does 'faithfulness' or 'kindness' or 'peace' truly get compared to other ways you might be trying to improve yourself? The Fruits of the Spirit represent the work that God is seeking to do in our lives. These are the character quartiles the Spirit will build in us. Let's be more conscious of their importance, consider their value, and be open to seeing how God is creating opportunities for us each day to build these values more deeply within us.
[Image by Nick Fewings on Unsplash]