I tried to grow a strawberry plant over the summer. It took a long time, and lots of weeding and watering and pruning, but eventually it sprouted a few exciting berries! The squirrels may or may not have gotten to them before me, but that's beside the point.
The strawberry plant doesn't tell itself not to grow so many leaves so the berries can be sweeter. It doesn't hydrate itself, especially during a drought. It can't make itself to produce 20 full sized berries overnight.
It takes time, but the berries do grow.
When I'm trying to 'grow' things in my life (like, say, the fruit of the Spirit?), I tend to do a lot of striving. I correct myself a lot. I say, "Nicole, stop it. You know better." That doesn't work so well.
I can't make me good.
But Jesus can, and does, and that's good news.
Jesus makes us more like himself as we spend time with Him. You've no idea how profound and freeing that is to me, however backwards it feels. Rather than my efforts be directly aimed at stopping sins in my life or producing Christ-likeness, I ought to attack it from the side by spending time with God.
It is through daily spiritual disciplines that bring us closer to God and closer to the image of Christ. Not through solely telling myself not to do things, not by just trying over and over again on my own. Those things have a place, but they are useless if they are all I do. If I am not spending time with God regularly, coming to know Him better and letting Him transform me, then anything I do will be futile.
"God must do everything for us. Our part is to yield and trust." A. W. Tozer.
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