The Vulnerable Fruits of the Spirit: Goodness, Faithfulness, Self Control

June 24, 2018 Speaker: Brenda Seefeldt Amodea Series: The Vulnerable Fruits of the Spirit

Passage: Galatians 5:22–5:23, 2 Timothy 2:13, 1 Peter 2:9–2:10

We say this often. Sometimes with exuberance. Yet sometimes we don’t believe it. Some of us never believe it. Because how can God be good when my life hurts so much? How can there be any good in me because I know my shame? How can God be good to me? This entire word “good” doesn’t belong in my broken life. Or I work so hard at “being good” that I’m exhausted and still feel unloved.

Yet goodness is a fruit of the Spirit. Goodness should be a part of our Christian life. We should ooze goodness. But it is easier to try to be good. To do those good works as a means to show our worthiness (so maybe you can believe you are really worthy). Goodness becomes yet another way we try to control our faith instead of simply living our lives out of the truth that we were created good. 

So we try and try and try to be good. We disguise our hustle by saying this is a fruit of the Spirit. We hustle and perform covering our cracks and imperfectness with our good works. We exhaust ourselves doing this and still feel like we are never enough. Or never loved. Or never good.

Is the hustle of your life believing that if you can get yourself together and do things better, maybe closer to the scale of perfect, you will then be good?

I’ve got a truth for you. “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10.

This is all true about you. You are chosen. You are royalty. You are holy. You are God’s very own possession. You show others the goodness of God when your broken life allows the light of God to get in through those cracks. You are God’s person. God says to you in Romans 5:8, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” We got this love before we even tried to clean ourselves up. Before we tried and tried and tried to earn it. When we were still a faulty cracked mess, we got His love already.

People, we are imperfectly together. As our faith grows these imperfections become less while at the same time new ones get revealed. This is faith growth.

Truth is, we never become perfect. We just continue to grow and the fruit of this growth are these vulnerable fruits of the Spirit which will always challenge us. This is good. This is goodness.

Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the bravery to be imperfect. Stop your hustle. You are enough and that is endearing. Endearing used on purpose because you will begin to notice how people will be drawn to you which is what endearing is.

While you are uncomfortable about having your hustle revealed, let’s move on to faithfulness. Faithfulness is full of vulnerability. My favorite definition of faith is “taking the first step even when you cannot see the whole staircase.”The whole staircase is hidden mostly because God is so silent at times. For long times. Why?!!!!

Have you ever prayed, Why are You listening so quietly, Jesus?

Some people, especially when the pain is so real, find faith to just be stupid. It would be so much easier to not continue in faith and take control over of your life.

God’s faithfulness to you is in every season of your life.Whether loud or silent. 1 Peter 4:18  says to us, “So if you are suffering according to God’s will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you.”

Or this beautiful psalm (we are starting a series on Psalms next week). Psalm 56:8, “You keep track of all of my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.” I have a lot of tears recorded and stored. For God to do this promise, He has certainly remained faithful to me to do this collecting.

Or this profound verse, 2 Timothy 2:13, “If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”God always remains faithful to us, no matter how silent He is.

This fruit of the Spirit, this measurement of my growing faith, is me staying faithful no matter how silent He is. I’m not stupid for staying faithful. I’m brave. Braver than I ever thought I could be.

I’ve never been one to say I have lived a great life of faith. That sounds so clean and strong. I feel more dirty and bruised and alive. When it came to making decisions of facing trials or persevering through pain I choose to wrestle with God. I guess that could be called faith but it feels less ethereal than that. This was something that was gutty and dirty. It came out of me. It was me who couldn’t see past the first step but did more than just hang on until I saw the rest of the staircase. I “let God have it” while the entire time hanging on for dear life because I knew I only wanted the outcome God had ordained. That is the dirty guttiness of faithfulness. Hardly ethereal at all because I am involved. And I am real.

This is my favorite cartoon ever. This is so me

Our last fruit is self control. Finally a fruit of the Spirit that is all about control!!

 

All of the other ones—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and faithfulness–have challenged us to stop trying to control our lives and push our faith into vulnerable areas. Which then become memorable, faith-shaping times. But still so hard. 

Finally control. But it’s not the kind of control that we like which keeps us out of vulnerability. It is the control that pushes us to these brave moments of vulnerability.

And self is involved. We don’t get to “give it over to God” and wish the hard part away. We have to enter ourselves—the self–into this. God is faithful through it all but we have to be in with our skin to live our story.

In your Lifeline you have this insert to take home with you.

What this means is when it comes to love, my self control will help me handle the heartbreak that love brings. I will accept that heartbreak is a part of love. The world needs the heartbreak I risk. 

When it comes to joy, it means I am worthy to feel this joy—the spring-flowers-blooming and splashing-in-rain-puddles kind of joy. My self control will allow me to feel this full joy—and not choose a partial joy for fear that something bad is right around the corner. Or entertain the thoughts that I do not deserve this joy.

When it comes to peace, my self control is needed when I’m in those darkest moments and my world has seemingly stopped. It is in those darkest moments that peace beyond understanding fills my soul–if I don’t numb or divert my way out of the pain. I need my self control for that for sure.

When it comes to patience, my self control is needed to help me keep a long and slow temper towards God, others, and myself (what patience is). My self control helps me stay in vulnerability when I would rather have something fixed or over with.

When it comes to kindness, my self control is needed to keep me attached as I extend kindness to people, particularly people who I know will disappoint me and break my heart. God is present in desperate need so my presence is also needed to be Jesus-with-skin-on.

When it comes to goodness, I need my self control to help me live like I have a strong sense of love and belonging while having the bravery to be imperfect. Those are not easy words to live.

When it comes to gentleness, I need my self control to give my everything as I “go in” again and again and again into peoples’ lives, especially of those I love. I need my self control to also keep my boundaries from those people who take too much from me.

When it comes to faithfulness, I need my self control to help me endure through the seasons of silence so I don’t have regrets of making decisions because I was angry at God for being silent.

Mark Twain famously said, “Bravery is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”Practicing these fruits of the Spirit involves vulnerability, thus fear. Every one of them. Every one of them challenge us to lose the control over our faith which we cling to dearly. But to live this fruitful and brave life of faith…I judge that to be more important than my fear.

Thus life is a bit more exciting. Dare I say fruitful?  It is.