The final Fruits of the Spirit
This month we wrap up our walk through the fruits of the Holy Spirit as we focus on living the fruits of gentleness, kindness, generosity and self-control. Growing in the fruits of the Spirit is all about inviting the Holy Spirit to become more and more alive in our days. When we allow the Holy Spirit to come more deeply into our lives, we are transformed.
This is the fruit that enables us to be calm, careful, mild mannered and thoughtful. Gentleness allows us to slow down and approach people, things and situations more carefully and less impulsively. Gentleness allows us to see beauty and wonder and appreciate the fragile nature of things. If we can help our kids practice gentleness with things such as raw eggs, baby animals and Grandma’s china, they can begin to apply the principles to people.
It’s more than being “nice.” The Gospel doesn’t say go forth and be nice, it says go forth and be Christ. True kindness means showing love to others, both friends and foes. This is the Gospel in a nutshell, so begin your lessons on this fruit there. Kindness has many faces such as affection, non-judgment, empathy, awareness of the needs of others, and service with no expectation of recognition or reward. How to practice? Begin with a halt to arguing. Try offering simple surprises such as leaving notes, doing someone else’s chores or offering to play a sibling’s favorite game. Practice good manners (especially frequent “thank-yous”), and round things out by handing out compliments now and then.
Generosity, also translated as Goodness
This fruit comes from growing in kindness and being charitable and unselfish. Someone who is filled with generosity is the kind of person others want to be around – the person who truly imitates the emotions and actions of Jesus. True goodness, or generosity, requires selflessness and humility, which are truly Christ-like characteristics. With practice and focus, they become more and more of who we are and how we respond to things around us.
This is the ability to say no to the things that lead us away from Jesus and yes to the things that allow us to grow in holiness. We need to practice this fruit in both words and actions. This is the fruit that helps us avoid temptation and stop to ask for God’s peace before we choose words or actions that can hurt our relationship with Jesus and with others. Helping kids write and practice a short prayer asking for this fruit can be a really helpful tool. It’s important to talk about self-control when things are calm and not during a heated situation. Model what demonstrating self-control would look and sound like using examples from your own experience or in real time.
Much like a tree filled with perfect, delicious fruit ready to enjoy, so, too, are the fruits of the Spirit ready and waiting for us. The Holy Spirit will provide them at the peak of perfection to nourish our souls and help us grow closer to the Father.
Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic school teacher, speaker, writer and founder of Joyful Words Ministries. Sheri blogs at www.joyfulwords.org.