Debbie Salter Goodwin
How do you grow joy?
Paul put his growth plan in a prayer. Paul was a prayer partner for every group of people he taught, wrote for, and preached to. In a very real way, he can become our prayer partner, too, because he left his prayer for us. It’s covers growth territory it will take me all my life to explore.
This is one of the best prayers for spiritual growth because it tells you three important ways to grow. What does it have to do with joy? Keep reading!
We need to know more about who God is and what He says His love is and can do. Since God is the source and composition of everything that love is; we need His perspective, definition, and model. We can’t come up with our own equations. We don’t work backwards from some experience or opinion and lay on God who He must be if He is love. We start with the reaching and unfailing Love of God. We grow this love by opening the unloved and unloving places in our hearts and receiving God’s unfailing love there. We don’t just try to love more or better; we let God love us deeper in ways no one else can. This empowerment prepares us for the next critical component of our growth: discernment.
Discernment isn’t an automatic gift. Sometimes we act as if it is. Spiritual discernment requires that we use the informed understanding of Who God is and how He wants to help us make decisions between good and better, better and best. That’s why it will never be enough to be a good person. It doesn’t take discernment to be good.
Discernment chooses what is pure and without fault in God’s eyes, not ours. Discerning demonstrates how God’s character has shaped us. Spirit-informed discernment grows the character of God in us. That’s the growth that produces righteous fruit.
Grow Righteous Fruit
We’re growing cherry tomatoes on our deck. It’s one of our ways to honor Lisa’s memory. She loved cherry tomatoes as much as chocolate! Our vine is drooping, heavy with fruit. We check it every day and pick the reddest ones and enjoy the burst of flavor we don’t find in grocery store produce.
That’s what we’re supposed to look like to God--a vine so full of righteous fruit we can hardly stand straight.
And what is the fruit of righteousness? Love-joy-peace-patience-kindness-goodness-faithfulness-gentleness-self control. Not one trait, but all of them growing by the direction, shaping, and nurture of the very Spirit of Christ. He’s the Gardener. As we receive more and more of God’s love to inform our discerning choices, we grow righteous fruit. And remember that joy is an irrepressible part of that fruit!
Pray this prayer this week. Let it trickle, phrase by phrase, like a cool water drip for the thirsty plants we are. See what it produces. It will be growth you can’t make happen by goals or try harder effort. And it will bring a joy that will settle you even on a day when nothing goes right.
Click here for a printable copy of this prayer.
Sharing the journey,