By Trisha Goddard
Fourteen years ago we moved our family to Paraguay, and in the midst of taking care of two young children and unpacking all of our earthly possessions, I realized that we were not on a quick trip, but here to stay. Within two days of setting foot in the country, I was thrust into a learner’s role: figuring out how to thrive in a country that was not my own, studying Spanish and the Paraguayan culture, and wondering what food to buy and where to buy it.
For my husband who grew up here, Paraguay was already home. But I became frustrated and overwhelmed with the expectations, language barriers, and culture stress. My own upbringing in the USA – a time-oriented country – did not prepare me for Paraguay's relationship-oriented society.
I often find that due to my circumstances, my words and actions toward my family do not reflect Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Living a self-controlled life is a daily choice. Some days, I completely blow it. Other days, I find it easier. I have to surrender my preferences and desires in order to spend more time with God and in His Word. Only then will my words and actions bear the fruit of the Spirit.
“The fruit of the Spirit is produced when we instinctively seek out nourishment. Our job [as God’s children] is simply to know Him, to be fed and refreshed by Him, to thrive in him, to rest in Him, and to love Him” (Mark Hall). It is learning to surrender and being willing to be pruned by the Gardner in order to bear fruit.
John 15:1-4 says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful...Remain in me, as I also remain in You. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.”
Bearing the fruit of the Spirit can only happen when I am connected to the Vine. Therefore, as I am obedient to His Word by remaining in Him, my words and actions will bring Him honor and glory.
Let’s speak words of love, instead of ones that tear another down. Find joy, even when going through hard times. Allow peace to permeate amidst the super long to-do list. Show forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness to others. Practice self-control in our words and actions every single day.