As I laid in bed listening to the fireworks pop and pow all around the city last night, I realized that it was, in fact, New Year’s Eve. I then remembered that, as a woman, blogger, and (now) mother, I’m expected to have it all put together. The world of social media expects me to have some kind of key word, phrase, theme, Scripture, or goal for the new year.
My mind reviewed 2021. Did I have a consistent word or Scripture for last year? No. But I did pray the same thing every day:
“Father God, please help us to be more like Jesus: good and kind, gentle, and patient.”
My mind chided me: You haven’t even accomplished last year’s prayer.
My spirit’s response: Well, I guess that will have to be this year’s prayer, as well.
I started including this petition in my evening prayers with my son as a way to introduce to him the idea that we should strive to be like Jesus. The words themselves come from Galatians 5:22-23:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23 NAS).”
I often talked with Gordon about being good and gentle, so I knew he would recognize these words. I figured I could add the others when he gets older.
But as the year has gone by, I realize this petition was more for myself than it was for him. I’m the one who needs the constant reminder and encouragement to behave as I should. This year, I plan to be more thoughtful and steady in my approach. Here is my commitment to myself:
Good – I will be good, and I will do good things for myself as well as others.
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27 NAS).
Kind – It is not enough to be good; I must also be kind.
“And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3 NAS).
Gentle – Hearts and minds are easily fractured. I will handle those around me (as well as mine) with great care.
“Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5 NAS).
Patient – I am not perfect, and neither are those around me. I will endeavor to be patient with myself and others, remembering that our work is ultimately for the Lord.
“We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14 NAS).
As we forge into 2022, I can encourage you to no greater heights than to strive to be like Jesus. Put on His armor every day. Seek to display the fruits of His Spirit. And when you slip up—for we all will—repent, forgive yourself, and try again. Here’s a simple prayer to start the year:
“Lord, let this year be all about You. Help the lost to seek You while You may be found. And help the saved to draw closer to You and to be known by Your love. We commit this day and this year to You. In the name of Jesus, the One Who was and is and is to come. Amen.”
Mommy and Me Corner
Imparting this lesson to your little ones
It can be hard to display the fruit of the Spirit every day, but the concept is still one you can easily share with your littlest child. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1) Get out your kid’s Bible, Bible story book, or even a Bible story coloring book, whichever one your kiddo prefers. Read a story about Jesus, or color a picture of Him, and talk about his characteristics. Was He kind? Gentle? Patient?
2) Point to examples of family or friends who display the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23. What did they do to be kind or gentle? Did it make God happy?
3) For older kids, pull out a dictionary and look up the various fruits of the Spirit. This is a great exercise to strengthen research skills, writing, spelling, etc.
4) Write Galatians 5:22-23 on a note card and have your little one read it throughout the week to memorize it. Make a big deal out his success when he gets it right.
5) Write out the fruits of the Spirit and help your child make a plan to display those fruits in his activities. Examples:
Good – Pick up trash along the road.
Kind – Bake cookies for the older lady who lives next door.
Gentle – Practice being gentle with your pets. How does the cat like to be pet? How does the dog?
Patient – Find activities your child can do while waiting in line or at the doctor’s office, such as reading, puzzles, or knitting.
However you approach these activities, the main lesson is that Scripture is real and true, and we should use it to determine how we live and behave toward one another. What a wonderful lesson to start this new year!
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