Over the last couple of months I’ve had the opportunity to read two interesting and in some ways similar books as a participant in our Wednesday and Thursday morning study groups. On Wednesday mornings we read A Complaint Free World” by Will Bowen and on Thursdays it was the book Happy? What it is and How to Find It by Matt Miofsky (a book that others of you read in one of our Sunday morning groups). Both of these books deal with ways to develop a more positive outlook on life and the spiritual benefits that come when we can manage to do so.
At the same time, I was preparing for our summer sermon series on the fruit of the Spirit from the book of Galatians. As I studied and pondered this important passage, I realized that many of these qualities that Paul listed here as signs that a person is “guided by the Spirit” were the same ones as those listed in the other two books as ways to have a more “glass half-full” view of the world. And so I began to make the connection between “happiness” and “fruitfulness”. In other words, as we begin to cultivate and live out fruits of the Spirit such as joy, peace, and patience, it may just change the way we look at the world for the better.
As both books (and the Bible) point out, we can try to root our happiness in the material things of the world—wealth, possessions, etc. But as Jesus says more than once, true contentment cannot be found in things that don’t last and/or that we can’t take with us. On the other hand, if we were to truly grow and share the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—do you think we might find true and lasting happiness in that way of life? I have a feeling that both Jesus and Paul would answer that question with a resounding “yes!” And further, I am realizing that in gifting us with these fruits and then calling us to grow and share them, God really does desire that we live more meaningful and even more contented lives.
So you can consider this another invitation to join us in worship on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings during July as we continue to unpack the fruit of the Spirit. As we learn how to be more fruitful in all of these ways, I understand now even further the impact on our lives that comes from living each of them out in new and deeper ways.