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Welcome to part 2 of this blog post were we are talking about the last 3 keys for times of refining and pruning! If you haven’t read part 1 go ahead and click here to check it out.

In the last post we talked about times when God takes us through a season of refining and pruning. I gave 5 keys that are helpful to remember during those times, they were:

  1. Humility
  2. Honor
  3. Avoiding a critical spirit
  4. Refusing to be offended
  5. Operating in the Fruits of the Spirit

We went over Humility and Honor in the last post. Lets chat about the last 3!

Key #3 Avoiding a critical spirit

This is a good key, y’all! First, what is a critical spirit?

Its a spirit of judgment. This person will bear much fruit but you can bet that it will be spoiled! Someone with a critical spirit will often complain and see all that is wrong with a person or situation and bring others into their downward spiral.

During times when God is forcing us to come face to face with our own flesh we can lash out defensively and point the finger at others so we can pretend we aren’t the problem. In that way, we don’t have to deal with our own issues. From our pain we can allow ourselves to become cynical and negative.

I have been there before. I was going through an intense time of pain and trial. I failed to guard my heart because of the pain and deferred hope I felt.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.  Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Because of that I allowed my pain to become validation for becoming critical about everyone and everything around me.

When we allow our heart to harden from a critical spirit, we throw a wrench into what God is working in our lives. We turn judgment on ourselves. Matthew 7:1-2 says, Do not judge and criticize and condemn [others unfairly with an attitude of self-righteous superiority as though assuming the office of a judge], so that you will not be judged [unfairly]. For just as you [hypocritically] judge others [when you are sinful and unrepentant], so will you be judged; and in accordance with your standard of measure [used to pass out judgment], judgment will be measured to you.

Like i said, when we become critical we throw a wrench in things. God is so much bigger then your attitude but when you walk in a critical spirit you can stay in a wilderness season longer than what God intended.

Don’t believe me? Remember the Israelites when God brought them out of bondage? While they were in the wilderness He was woking on building their trust for Him. He was working on their heart, attitudes, disobedience, and unbelief. He was refining them through fire. An intended 11 day journey took 40 years!!

Lets not allow stubbornness, a critical heart, or judgment keep us stuck in a season of pruning!

Key #4 Refusing to be offended.

This key has similar consequences as key #3 if disregarded

My pastor’s spiritual father always says, “refuse to be offended”. I loved this concept the moment I heard it but it cut pretty deep at the same time. Lets be honest, it’s difficult to practically follow this advice  in the midst of an offense. But it can be done!

When we become offended at a person, situation, or even God, we invite the enemy into our lives to wreak havoc. 

When we become offended at a person, situation, or even God, we invite the enemy into our lives to wreak havoc.

1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”. We must be sober-minded, not giving ourselves over to offense or other things that hardened our heart and give a foot hold to the enemy.

Going back to my personal example, after going through an extremely painful time i allowed myself to become offended at God. Why would He let me go through something so terrible? My heart became cynical and critical. I felt myself become stagnant. I wasn’t yielding to God or acting in love. I stayed right where I was, in the refiners fire. He had to burn out my attitude, inability to wait on Him and my distrust in if He would save me. I didn’t began to find healing until I recognized I was being hindered in my growth. I realized suffering is a part of life and that I can STILL trust God through it. ”

“Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:9-10)

Offense is rooted in “self”. It’s a reaction rooted in self-centeredness. To refuse offense we must die to ourself. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. (ESV) We must submit our flesh that operates in emotionalism and hurt feelings so we can stay free from bondage.

When we operate in offense we aren’t hurting the people we are offended at, we are ultimately hurting ourselves.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

Love covers a multitude of sins. If someone offends you, love them- thats the best medicine.

Finally, Key #5 Operate in the Fruits of the Spirit

“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

When we go through seasons of refining or pruning it can be hard to walk in these characteristics if we don’t deny our flesh. Our flesh naturally walks opposite to the fruits of the Spirit. But “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).

I love how the Apostle Paul describes the characteristics that Christians should have as fruit. It reminds me of John 15:1-6 when we were talking about pruning in the last post. God in His mercy prunes the unfruitful branches off of us, the branches that have spoiled fruit.

The Fruits of the Spirit are the fruits that we should be producing instead of the branches that bear no resemblance to Christ. 

Walking in the Fruits of the Spirit will always cause you to emerge out of a low place. Finding yourself in a critical spirit? Be intentional with loving those you meet through your day, regardless how much you don’t want to.  Finding yourself depressed? Turn that around by thanking the Lord and giving Him praise, you will begin to produce joy in your life.

Little steps taken over time will cause your perspective to become naturally focused on walking in the Fruits of the Spirit. I promise you, focus on these fruits and you will discover the treasure of what God would want to teach you no matter what season your in!

 

I really hope this blog series was helpful and that you were encouraged no matter what season you are in. In life, we are constantly evolving. There will always be a need for God to refine and prune us throughout our life. Whether your in that season now or will be in the future I hope you can reflect on some of these keys and find encouragement and wisdom.

Love y’all! Dont forget, if you have prayer request i would love to pray for you. Click here.

Love, Alyssa

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