Dear God, early in our journey I was looking for rules and order. (It probably had a lot to do with being a young parent!) I discovered that through Bible study.
But I always found refuge. I always felt love.
And both represent Biblical truth: your law and your love.
Father, early in our journey I used my interpretation of your rules as a cudgel - not to nudge others, but to judge others. And I lacked a corresponding inclination to share your love. Signs of an immature faith.
Lord Christ, you have taught me that the Bible's high standards must be tempered with love and mercy. Your methods were teaching, healing, service, and ultimately, sacrifice. You did not travel Palestine as an enforcer. The "fruits of the Spirit" are not stridency, harshness or a closed mind.
St. Paul famously lists them:
...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
The Message amplifies:
...things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Holy Spirit, I am challenged to take this beyond sentiment or ethical concept…to work out the implications in every detail of my life.* Signs of a maturing faith, I pray. Amen.
* - from The Message translation, Galatians 5:25