“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23, NKJV)
When we first meet Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, he is an impatient, resentful, and miserly man. The fruit of his emotions built a wall around his heart so that he had no healthy, satisfying relationships. But then he was visited by visions of the past, present, and future which transformed his way of feeling and living. His new emotions set him on a trajectory toward life-giving relationships.
More than mythic tales of transformation, God is at work in the hearts of followers of Jesus to transform our emotions. This transformation becomes real-life experiences as we surrender to the Holy Spirit and His fruit fills our hearts with heavenly emotions. If you have a hard time believing it, just remember what God is doing in you right now by the power of the Spirit.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NKJV)
The Spirit gives us strength as we experience hope. The more we submit to the Spirit, the more we trust Him. The more we trust God, the more we experience the confident expectation that He will lead us to the best. The more we hope in Him, the more we experience love, joy, and peace. The more we feel love, joy, and peace, the more our other emotions reflect a life satisfied in Jesus.
The term, makrothumia, is patience, steadfastness, and endurance. It is a state of emotional strength and calm in the face of misfortune. When the Spirit’s fruit infects our emotions, we will have patience, enduring personal grief and pain for the sake of a better relationship.
The Spirit ignites kindness (chrēstotēs) in the soul of His people. Kindness is an emotional response of love to the needs of another. God displayed His kindness, His loyal love, toward us through His patience with us in our sin and kindness in sending Jesus to die for sinners that we might have life through faith in Him. When we stay close to the heart of God through a constant yielding to the Spirit, His kindness saturates our emotions so that we feel kindness toward others.
The Spirit leads us to acts of goodness (agathōsynē) toward others. This is a feeling of generosity toward another. We know that it is easy to become infected with feelings of resentment, but God has given us His Spirit who gives us a new heart.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27, NKJV)
As we surrender ourselves to the Spirit, the emotions of resentment are transformed to generosity. No longer do we have to be infected with the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge. Through this exquisite submission, the Spirit fills our heart with heavenly emotional responses. He transforms impatience to patience, complaint to kindness, and resentment to generosity.
So, today, do the hard work of submitting to the Spirit so that your emotions are transformed from toxic to healthy.
Stop. Take a breath. And pray:
“God, as I submit to Your Spirit, will You transform my emotions so that they produce the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity) in my relationships.”