Praying The Fruit Of The Spirit For Our Kids
The Fruit of the Spirit – Joy: Foundation for a Positive Life
Wouldn’t you to experience deep and enduring joy? Wouldn’t you to be joy-full? Please be assured— you can.
The world has a woeful shortage of joy and a surplus of fear, worry, discouragement and depression. Even the “pursuit of happiness” and obsessive pleasure-seeking do not bring deep and lasting joy.
Let’s first understand the difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is an emotion, and God never intended for people to be in that emotional state all the time. There is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
Biblical joy—the true joy—comes from filling the spiritual void with good relationships, primarily an intimate relationship with the One who is pure joy. Jesus put it this way: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit” (John 15:5). That fruit includes much joy!
The Bible speaks much more often of joy than of being happy. “Hap” means chance and is the root of several words— happen, happening, haphazard (dependent on mere chance), hapless, happenstance (a chance circumstance) and happy.Happiness is a glad feeling that depends on something good happening. God wants you to experience happy times (as long as God approves of what is happening). But His greater desire is that you have unconditional joy. Jesus said His joy would “remain in you” and “your joy no one will take from you” (John 15:11; John 16:22, emphasis added throughout).
Think of joy as a strong foundation that supports a variety of healthy emotions, including happiness. The long-range evidence of joy is general gratitude, contentment, optimism, a sense of freedom and other positive attitudes.
Joy looks out and up, not inward
A common mistake is to think that getting something will make you happy. We tell ourselves, “If only …” But joy and happiness come much more from giving and serving than from getting.
The apostle Paul reminded his listeners that Jesus Christ had taught this very thing: “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving” (Acts 20:35, Today’s English Version).
To grow in joy, we must resist not only self-pity but also being self-centered and self-absorbed. For joy to flourish, we must focus on loving others and especially on loving God.
Joy is largely composed of gratitude —gratitude for the wonderful things God has done for us and His “exceedingly great and precious promises” for our future (2 Peter 1:4). Gratitude produces joy (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). And our gratitude should be for other people’s blessings as well as for our own (Romans 12:15).
Try to follow this biblical formula: Add to your life gratitude, humility, forgiveness, faith, hope, patience and love. Take away resentment, anger, fear, worry, materialism, greed, jealousy, complaining and pride. The result? Joy!
Joy is spiritual, supernatural and essential
God is joyful—far more than any human being ever was! It’s tragic that many people think of God as somber and stern rather than cheerful and smiling with a great sense of humor. He is enjoying His creation, and especially the delightful anticipation of many new “sons of God” (Romans 8:14; Romans 8:19).
True followers (imitators) of God will be joyful also. Psalms 68:3 says, “Let the righteous be glad; … let them rejoice exceedingly.” God desires that we serve Him “with joy and gladness of heart” (Deuteronomy 28:47).
Paul spoke of the “joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). It is through His Spirit that God shares and communicates His joy.And when Paul lists the “fruit of the Spirit,” joy is second, preceded only by love (Galatians 5:22-23). If we are filled with godly love, won’t that produce joy? Of course it will.
Being second in the list surprises many people who mistakenly think joy is spiritually unimportant. Some religious people even shun joy, at least subconsciously, thinking that pious people should instead be solemn. A few even choose asceticism, which God abhors.
Joy is a major topic in the Bible. In the King James Version, “joy” appears 158 times and “rejoice” 198 times (not counting other variations such as joyful, joyfully, joyous, jubilant, happy and glad ).
Rejoice is the verb form of joy, meaning to feel or have joy! Clearly there is great emphasis in the Bible on feeling and expressing joy. That explains why the Bible also emphasizes prayers and songs that praise (celebrate) God (James 5:13; Colossians 3:16-17).
Joy is not optional. The Bible repeatedly commands us to rejoice! The most emphatic exhortation is in Philippians 4:4, where Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”
Is it wrong to have sorrow?
The Bible describes two kinds of sorrow. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Those who have joy frequently experience godly sorrow at the same time. It can be the sorrow of repentance toward God. Those who feel the worst about their sins feel the greatest joy about their forgiveness and God’s amazing grace.
Another example is mourning over the suffering of others while having the joy of knowing that God will eventually solve all problems (Matthew 5:4).Worldly sorrow is generally self-pity or a victim mentality. While one indulges in worldly sorrow, it’s virtually impossible to have either godly sorrow or joy.
Isaiah’s prophecy said Jesus would be “a Man of sorrows”—sorrows over mankind’s sins and suffering (Isaiah 53:3). Yet He was also prophesied to be “anointed … with the oil of gladness more than [His] companions” (Hebrews 1:8-9; Psalms 45:6-7). And indeed, Christ had great joy and also experienced great sorrow (John 17:13; Matthew 26:37-39).
Grieving is a healthy response when a loved one dies. However, if we believe the truth of the resurrection, we also have comfort and joy because we know our loss is only temporary. The grief is much more painful for those “who have no hope” in a resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
Joy because of trials?
God’s joy continues to flow through His people even during their suffering because of their rock-solid hope. They know that all suffering is limited to this short life, and the time will soon come when “there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying” (Revelation 21:4). They “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).
We also have good reason to rejoice because of our trials when we understand how God is using those trials to help us build godly character. “And we know that all things [even severe trials] work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
More specifically, Paul wrote that “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4, New International Version).
James wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance”—perseverance in remaining faithful to God (James 1:2, NIV).
And because Christ suffered for each of us, we should have a special joy when we are persecuted for our faith. Jesus said, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12).
The number one key to joy: God’s Spirit
Supreme joy is God’s nature and character! We see proof everywhere in God’s creation—birds singing, animals leaping, flowers blooming, brooks babbling and the sun shining! Many people would be less depressed if they would spend more time outside. God “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).
Since God is exceedingly joyful, His servants should also be joyful! Sadly, many who claim to be His disciples are austere, sour and dour. But take note of Luke’s description of true disciples: “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52).
How can we be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit? “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [forgiveness] of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ ” (Acts 2:38).What then? Our unique joy begins because Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20). He tells us to “rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). We then have an intimate relationship with the One Psalms 43:4 calls “God my exceeding joy.” In His presence “is fullness of joy” (Psalms 16:11).
God’s Spirit is a tree of life, producing life-giving fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). That fruit includes great joy.
Jesus prayed for His followers “that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13).
He also teaches us to pray for joy and for all our needs. As He tells us in John 16:24, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full!”
Fruits of the Spirit Lessons for Kids
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23
I had extensive Bible training growing up. My family memorized all sorts of scriptures and Bible text.
I can even remember playing games and challenges with scriptures. One of the most talked about sections of the Bible for a Christian is the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. And one of the scriptures I can still recite from memory is:
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to Him both now and forever, Amen! – 2 Peter 3:18
As parents, we usually start our children off with this text as it helps reinforce the behaviors we desire then to display as they are growing up. We want to do our best to help them grow in their knowledge of Christ. However, kids are kids, and they often spend more time doing the opposite of the fruit they should be displaying.
If the Fruits of the Spirit really were fruit, my boys would be throwing them instead of using them!
So I have a confession. I don’t dogs! After having one bad experience of being chased by a St. Bernard, that pretty much ruined any chances of my kids ever getting a dog as a pet. But my resistance to dogs hasn’t stopped my children from loving them or asking to get one. So when I came across the new book, Pups of the Spirit, I knew my kids would love it.
Let me start by saying it is now one of our favorite books! In this picture book, nine lovable canines romp through the pages displaying the important Fruit of the Spirit traits. It is so cute. My kids (even the older ones) really got into it and started selecting the pups that were most them.
My youngest even took it to share with her preschool class, which just happened to be studying the fruits of the spirit at the same time.
We always want to make sure that we use materials that will reinforce our faith to our children. Having things that meet them where they are and capture their attention is always most effective. This book is definitely one that does. So what are some ways we can help our children practice the Fruits of the Spirit?The main message to get across to kids is that when we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit makes His home in our hearts. As we grow in the Spirit, we are a tree that keeps growing and producing fruit.
These outward signs of the Holy Spirit are called “fruit” because fruit is only produced in a healthy, living plant. As you grow in the Spirit, others should see the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
These are all the good qualities that God wants us to have!
Ways to Teach Children about the Fruits of the Spirit
- Apply the Fruits of the Spirit in real-life situations. For instance, when my oldest daughter, who is 12, has an issue with a friend at school I often ask her how she can pursue peace in the situation or practice patience.
- Create a Fruits of the Spirit praise jar in your kitchen for a month and write down whenever you catch your child in action showing one of the fruits. Set a goal and at the end of the month go out for banana splits or FroYo with fruit toppings!
- Use age-appropriate material to reinforce this Bible lesson, the book Pups of the Spirit.
Try anything that is easy for a child to understand and easy for them to remember!
- Make some Fruits of the Spirit crafts. There are so many great ideas on Pinterest! Many of them also incorporate easy Bible lessons.
- Don’t forget to have fun! We to play Fruits of the Spirit Jeopardy.
Sample: The restaurant was taking a long time with my food. Instead of getting mad, I continued to wait. Answer: What is Patience?
There are so many ways to help our children learn the Fruits of the Spirit. Even as adults we need reminders ourselves as we go about our daily lives.
The traffic at my local DMV alone is a constant battle against my faith and my need to walk in the fruits of patience and self-control! (Perhaps I should just keep this book with me in the car.)
How do you practice the Fruits of the Spirit? What creative ways do you use to teach your kids to walk in the Fruits of the Spirit?
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