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There was once an ad on TV about the “softer side of Sears” that would just make my hubby roll his eyes and groan because Sears was where you went and bought manly stuff like tools and freezers, not lady’s dainty underthings. This, this is what’s ruining the world, he would say. I used to tease him about it.

Just the same, there is quite a bit about our faith that is closely entwinned to the, “softer side of Sears.” Things like “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control, against these things there is no law.” The fruit of the spirit, the things we are to be producing in our lives are all soft things.

Don’t confuse “softness” with “weakness” because that is just dumb. In truth it takes a great deal of strength to be patient and gentle. The world often tries to knock that right out of you, so not even having gotten out of the gate yet you’re already going to be at war. It is a real fight, a genuine battle to try to keep your heart soft and you ear in tune to the Lord while the world is just pounding away on you. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

Galatians 5 is an amazing passage and everyone should read the whole thing, early and often. It is also where we read about spiritual fruit, what it is and what is is not, and learn about discernment. I like to read many different versions and ponder the wording, and so recently I encountered the Passion Translation and really liked how they described spiritual fruit as action words, as verbage. So we have: “joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit.”

The point being this is not intended to be spiritual fruit we acquire, freeze dry, and tuck away in the pantry. It is fruit that serves a purpose, that manifests itself in our lives and becomes evident in how we relate to one another. We are called to reflect the fruit of His spirit.

I found it quite interesting that what most versions of the Bible translate as “self control,” TPT defines as “strength of spirit.” The old Aramaic word they are all trying to define is actually more akin to “lordship.” I liked this very much on account of the fact that our pastor just said, who we obey has authority over us. So if you are obeying fear, you have granted it power and authority over you. Who or what we obey really does have lordship over us, and will determine what fruit is produced in our lives.

Somebody smart said, “we aren’t working FOR Jesus, we’re working FROM Jesus.” That strength of spirit is His spirit. That self control is actually surrendering to His control, to His lordship. Nobody else’s lordship by the way, not so much, except perhaps a trusted friend or a good word or a beloved spouse or something.

Recently I got to have a good look at this very small man, not small in height but in spirit, weak about the chin, smirky and insecure, all gloating about his new found power and control over his little kingdom. Rumplestiltskin, I shall call him. Obviously I was not filled with compassion and mercy or Christian charity of any sort and the Lord whispered to me, “how embarrassing.” I was thinking, how embarrassing I can’t seem to manifest any fruit towards this rotten specimen?? No! How embarrassing that you would even consider granting him the slightest bit of influence in your life.


It was quite a revelation. I had granted Rumplestiltskin a tiny bit of my curiosity, taken the time to read his silly words, and felt some need to try to convince him to take his foot off the neck of people in this area. But Rumplestiltskin was not the problem at all, I was for having granted him any influence at all, for not laughing outright at his foolishness, walking away, and just carrying on with my life.

The moment I made that connection and realized it was totally my fault that I felt so much hostility towards him, I was no longer angry, no longer entangled and fearful, and so I was able to look at him far more objectively. The hard part for me is that most “bad guys” actually serve at the consent of the governed. This guy doesn’t have power because he is smart or big and brawny, he has power granted by the panicked and fearful, the consent of the governed who in their hysteria and fear, have turned to him for answers. Since I do not consent to be governed by people with weak chins and smirky smiles, what secular authorities choose to say or not say, is actually none of my business, at least not in an emotional and spiritual sense.

The little strawman spinning his kingdom gold is just a silly little example, but we can apply the same principle, the same fruit to so many things in our lives. Self control or strength of spirit or lordship are about recognizing what or who you allow to have authority and influence over you. Don’t consent to be governed by others who are clearly unworthy and then get angry when they let you down.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”