Control Freak

 

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. –Galatians 5:22–23 NLT

Growing up as the youngest in a poor family wasn’t all that great.

I rarely got new clothes. Hand-me-downs from my older sister had to do, whether I liked them or not—and just about everything needed hemmed or taken in.

Then there was the keep-her-close-to-home syndrome my parents seemed to suffer from. Neither my brother nor my sister were rebellious in the sixties way, but, for some reason, my parents kept me close to home—and that included not wanting me to get a part-time job. A little pocket money would have improved my practically nonexistent social life, but my parents told me my job was “to be a good student” and “help your mother around the house.”

I obeyed on both counts. I made the honor roll every grading period and cleaned the house every week during the summer months. One time, wanting something different, I rearranged my bedroom furniture, now that I had the room all to myself, then spent the evening at a friend’s house. When I returned, the room was back the way it had been.

Then there was the financial situation. I’d been selected to be a band majorette for my junior year, and that meant money for boots, tassels, a new baton, band jacket, and a brand new uniform—and occasionally a soft drink after practice. My parents were still struggling from my father’s layoff years earlier. Knowing it was hard for them to come up with the extra cash, I got a part-time job at the school library for the summer months. It was one of those underprivileged student jobs through the local government.

My first day was heaven. I loved the work—I mean, here I was, an avid reader, working in a library. And I loved feeling useful, doing something to contribute to the family finances.

But when I got home, my mother told me that I wouldn’t be going to work the next day—or any day.

“There was a mistake,” she said.

Once again, I obeyed, but when I landed my first teaching job years later, I seized the reins of my life. And have struggled with relinquishing them ever since—even to God. Even though I know His way is best and He’s not a control freak like my mother was.

The kind of control my mother exerted led to frustration, disappointment, heartache, and rebellion.

But the kind of control that God, through His Holy Spirit, exerts leads to only good things—such as joy, peace, satisfaction, and fulfillment.

Isn’t that what we all hunger for?

Dear God, when I fight You for my way, remind me that Your way leads to all I’m searching for, all I desire. Break the control freak in me. Amen.

Read and reflect on John 15:1–8; 14:16–17, 26; 16:13

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

The Fruit of Kindness

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The fruit of the Spirit is . . . kindness. – Galatians 5:22 (NIV)

Be kind and compassionate to one another. – Ephesians 4:31 (NIV)

When I was stopped behind a car waiting to make a left turn on a busy road last week, I was a bit antsy, especially since there was no left-turn lane. Left-hand turns, as you know, can be dangerous.

I was headed north—a tad late for my appointment—and there was no break in the steady southbound traffic. Time to practice that patience I talked about last week, huh?

Imagine my delight and surprise when a southbound vehicle stopped and gestured for the car in front of me to make the left turn. The driver didn’t have to do that—he had the right-of-way. It didn’t take but a few seconds and traffic was moving again.

Kindness is still alive and well in the world today despite the macabre headlines we read daily.

In the Old Testament, we read about a young widow, Ruth, who refused to leave her mother-in-law, Naomi, also a widow. Naomi and her family had moved from Israel to the land of Moab—not a country friendly to the Jews—during a time of severe famine. During their extended stay, both sons married Moabite women. Then Naomi’s husband died. Then both her sons.

Now, in those times, there wasn’t anyone more helpless than a widow. Girls were raised to become wives and mothers, so when they were widowed, they had to depend on relatives to support them.

Problem: Naomi was in a foreign land, far from relatives who could help her. So she decided to go back home. Her two Moabite daughters-in-law would go with her. But partway on the journey, Naomi told them to go back. She knew they’d have no future in Israel. One daughter-in-law turned back, but Ruth refused.

“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you,” she said. “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me” (Ruth 1:16–17).

What kindness!

Later on in the story, we read how Boaz, a relative of Naomi, showed kindness to Ruth because of her kindness to Naomi. To make a long story short, Boaz married Ruth, and the result of that union was a baby boy named Obed, who became the father of Jesse, who became the father of David, from whose line the Messiah came.

Ruth had no idea what the extraordinary result of her kindness would be.

In Luke 16, Jesus tells the story of a man who had opportunity daily to show kindness to a sore-covered beggar at his gate. But he didn’t. And he reaped the fruit of his unkindness.

What about you? Will you be like the rich man in Jesus’ parable, who was blind to the opportunity to show kindness? Or Ruth, whose kindness rippled through time and continues to bless us today?

Open my eyes, Lord, to the many opportunities I have each day to show kindness to others. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Ruth 2 and Luke 16:19–31. I encourage you to read the entire book of Ruth. It’s not long (only 4 chapters), but it’s a beautiful, heartwarming story.