fruit of the spirit.

Sometimes I look at my sin and the ugliness in my heart and wonder how God could possibly love me.  ME.  A young woman with enough baggage and brokenness to go around.  BUT HE DOES!  His love is unconditional and unending.  It cannot be earned.  It is freely given to EVERYONE.  We don't have to wait until we're "good enough" to call out to Him.  We can be battered.  We can be broken.  We can be overwhelmed and hopeless and dirty.  No matter what state we are in, He welcomes us with open arms.  I don't know about you, but that just blows my mind.  I mean, does He know what I've done?  The dark thoughts I've had?  The bruised and battered condition of my heart?

The answer is YES.

But He loves me regardless.

Right now you may be thinking, "Of course God welcomes us when we first turn to Him!  He expects those who are lost to be full of sin.  But the moment I choose to follow Him, I have to be careful not to mess up.  If I fall even a little short, He will turn His back on me.  He will not tolerate sin from His children."  

Lovely, if you've had thoughts like that, you're not alone.  I've known Jesus my entire life, and every day I wonder whether my sin will grow too big for Him to forgive.  What if He decides I'm too much of a lost cause?  Too dirty to be cleaned up?  Too full of evil to be redeemed? 

This morning I read a thought-provoking devotional from She Reads Truth on the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  I then spent some time reading through Galatians 5, and you know what I discovered?  When we become Christians, God doesn't expect us to automatically live a life of perfect holiness.  He knows we still have emotional baggage to sort through, hurt in our hearts, and deep-seeded lies that will continue to shape our thoughts and actions until we allow them to be dispelled by truth.  When we first come to Jesus, we're like a rough, dirty block of stone.  Only God can see the beautiful sculpture the block of stone will become.  It may take years before the the jagged edges are smoothed, before the rough stone is polished to a shine, before the heart is fully freed.  That's okay.  No matter where we are in the process, God loves us.  

Perhaps even more reassuring is knowing that we don't have to muster up the self-control or the willpower to change ourselves.  Our transformation is the result of God's Holy Spirit working slowly and gently within our souls.  As you read the words below, take comfort in knowing that God is not disappointed in you.  He knows you are a work in process, and He loves you regardless.

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control..."

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)