All of us need an occasional visit to the Doctor for a physical check-up just to make sure everything is working as it should and there are no hidden or underlying conditions we need to address for our health. The same is true with our spiritual health.
We are creatures of habit and we tend to live life on autopilot and cruise along until something bad happens that gets our attention. We often miss the clues, both physically and spiritually, that indicate our health is not what it should be and if not addressed will be headed for trouble.
In the same way a doctor may put you through a battery of tests to help diagnose potential physical problems, God has given us, through His Word, a process to evaluate our spiritual health.
Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 describes the characteristics that should be exhibited when a healthy follower of Jesus is walking by the Spirit. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control …”
These verses are not the only ones you can use to do a spiritual checkup but it’s a good starting point. So let’s look at these characteristics and ask a few questions to diagnose our level of health.
Love – The word used here doesn’t refer to warm fuzzy feelings but to a deliberate attitude of goodwill and devotion to others. God’s kind of love that gives to others and expects nothing in return.
Diagnostic Question – In my relationships, am I motivated to do for others as Christ has done for me, or am I giving in order to receive something in return?
Joy – Unlike happiness, joy is a supernatural gladness and stems from the realization of God’s favor and grace in my life. It is completely independent of the good or bad things that happen in the course of a day.
Diagnostic Question – Am I experiencing a joy in life that is independent of my circumstances but a result of my focus on God and His purposes?
Peace – is not the absence of turmoil but the presence of calm even though things around you may be chaotic. Being free from worry or fear about finances, our safety, our salvaiotn, etc.
Diagnostic Question – Do I find myself frazzled by the turmoil in my life or am I experiencing the “peace that passes all understanding”?
Patience – is the ability to endure ill-treatment from life or at the hands of others without lashing out or paying back. We become long-tempered instead of short-tempered.
Diagnostic Question – am I easily set off when things go wrong or people irritate me, or am I able to keep a godly perspective in the face of life’s irritations?
Kindness – looks for ways to adapt to meet the needs of others or put the needs of others first.
Diagnostic Question – Is it my goal to serve others with kindness, or am I too focused on my own needs, desires, or problems, to let the goodness of God overflow to others?
Goodness – While kindness is the acting out of goodness, goodness reflects the character of God. Goodness in you desires to see goodness in others and do good to others.
Diagnostic Question – Does my life reflect the holiness/goodness of God?
Faithfulness – a person with integrity who is truly devoted to others and to Christ. Combination of dependability, devotion and being trustworthy.
Diagnostic Question – are there areas of hypocrisy and indifference toward others in my life, or is my life characterized by faith in Christ and faithfulness to those around me?
Gentleness – Gentleness is not without power, it just chooses to defer to others. It forgives others, corrects with kindness and lives in harmony with others.
Diagnostic Question – Do I come across to others as brash and headstrong or do I allow the grace of God to flow through me to others?
Self Control – is the ability to control one’s body, its sensual appetites and desires for the things of the flesh. It is literally releasing our grip on the fleshly desires, and choosing instead to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Diagnostic Question – are my fleshly desires controlling my life or am I allowing the Spirit to direct me to the things that please God and serve others?
Walking by the Spirit – while this is not a fruit of the Spirit it is the power source behind being able to produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life. Self effort to produce these characteristics in your life will have limited and non-lasting effects. But when we focus on following the Spirit’s lead instead of being led by our self focused desires, He produces the fruit in our life.
Diagnostic Question – am I actively depending on the Holy Spirit to guide me in God’s ways so I don’t get wrapped up in myself?