5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 5:23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Of course these are the fruits that are produced by the Holy Spirit as He guides a person who is committed to following Jesus. I wonder, however, if we should look closely at these attributes and try to teach our children these things from the earliest age? Are these attributes not being taught to children because we as parents and grandparents do not exhibit them ourselves? Can we expect children to learn these things without our guidance?
Does our home and family life exist as an environment without love; a place of negative talk with condemning neighbors, friends and other family members for the wrong things we see in them? Do we ourselves see things that are not going right, things that are out of place, messed up or dirty?
Is our home a battleground of fighting, misbehaving, slinging mud at each other, anger or rage where we talk about getting even with someone who has done us a wrong? Are we looking for revenge for every ruffled feather? Do we plot to make sure that someone we don't like will befall some calamity that will cause them embarrassment or harm? Do we have to constantly look over our shoulder to be on the lookout for someone whom we think might ambush us because of a skirmish in which we have been involved?
Do we have a short fuse that causes us to explode all over a person who says or does the "wrong" thing? Do we emulate the cartoon figure who laments, "I have one more nerve, and you are about to step on it? Are we immediately upset because our child, or someone else has spilled milk, made a mess, left the bed unmade or failed to complete a chore? Do we spit out words of disgust or profanity when we are interrupted from something requiring our attention?
Do we belittle others and repay good deeds with harsh words? Do we make fun of others and seek to embarrass them publically "just to teach them a lesson"? Do we turn away from those who are in need of our help by being unsympathetic and less compassionate? Do our actions demonstrate an obvious lack of consideration and caring to others in our family or circle of friends?
Have we blotted out that part of ourselves that sees the good in others? Have we bathed ourselves in our own selfishness to the point that our usefulness to others has diminished? Is that quality part of our character missing as we engage in tearing others down just to try to build ourselves up?
Have we become so unreliable that we have lost our credibility in following through with promises we have made? Do others just take it for granted we will not deliver when the going gets rough? Have we used up all of our strength and lost our will to continue on long before the task is completed? Are we the first to leave when the heavy obligation is taken up by the strength of others?
Has a harshness of character become the primary attribute that others first think about when our name is mentioned? Are we the first to condemn a bruised, hurting soul with gruff exhortation to stand up and endure the weight of a situation by their own power? Do we become annoyed easily when others approach us with some request?
Finally, have we fallen into a habit of responding immediately to some perceived infraction from others by using anger or rage as a means of control? Are we unable to hold our words aimed at others that are intended to "break their bones" with force and hatred? Have we sunk into a dismal practice of tearing up things around us physically and figuratively?
If any of the questions about the attributes mentioned above can be answered in the affirmative, there is a tremendous need for the Spirit of Christ to indwell our soul. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 5:23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23) Are these the attributes we want our children to live by, or those things that oppose these attributes? As parents and grandparents it is our responsibility to decide and act.