But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)
Friend to Friend
This time of year, we sing Silent Night and yet this can feel like the noisiest season. The ring of the telephone and cash registers, the clink of silverware and oven timer, the endless demands that seem to come from every corner. In the middle of it all, how can we know and hear God’s voice?
I’m sitting at a table full of women one evening and we’re talking about this very topic. Someone says, “A friend once told me that God’s voice is always kind. So, if what I’m hearing in my heart or mind isn’t kind then it’s not from God.”
These words follow me out the door that night like a line of loyal ducklings. When I wake up the next morning they are still there waiting to be considered. It seems so obvious but I’ve not thought of it quite this way before. I reflect on the internal accusations and expectations I sometimes hear.
“You need to do more.”
“You have to make everything perfect.”
“You should please everyone.”
These mandates might push me to be outwardly compliant but the tone is always one of harshness and criticism. When I hear such things, I feel guilt and shame.
A few days after the discussion with the table of women I read about the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). There’s that word again, kindness, and it’s accompanied by many others like it. I’m familiar with this list but I’ve always thought of it in terms of what needs to be present in my life rather than what’s part of God’s character. But of course, fruit is always consistent with its source. I realized when we want to know if what our hearts are hearing is from God we can ask…
Is this voice loving?
Does it lead to more joy in my life?
Does it bring me greater peace?
Is it patient with me?
Is it full of kindness?
Does it express goodness?
Does it show faithfulness?
Is it spoken with gentleness?
Does it help me have self-control?
If what we’re hearing or saying to ourselves doesn’t align with the questions above then it is not from God. There is nothing motivating, reassuring, comforting, encouraging or helpful about criticism and condemnation. There is “now no condemnation for those who are in Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Even when we do need correction or discipline, “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4).
Once we recognize what we’re tuned into isn’t from God we can ask Him to help us embrace the truth instead. We can hear His voice through His Word, the safe people in our lives, and through learning to listen in the quiet moments of our lives.
God is speaking to us in a thousand different ways this Christmas season as well as throughout the year. Every single one comes down to the same message, the one we most long to hear: You are loved.
Dear Lord, help me listen to Your voice of Truth. This Christmas and throughout the coming year, I want Truth to ring louder than any lie. You are a kind Father, and I will choose to believe what You say about me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Quiet your heart for a moment. What lies has your heart been hearing? What’s the truth God wants to speak to you instead?
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Holley Gerth is a bestselling author, encourager and life coach who loves empowering women to embrace who they are and become all God created them to be. Her book Fiercehearted will help you and those you love live more fully and love more bravely.