When I was young, I was easily angered and difficult to influence for good. Selfish, deceitful, vengeful, undesirable.
When I became a believer at 22, I was still quite the same person I had been at 8. About two years later, I studied Paul’s letter to the congregations in what we now call Turkey: Galatia. When I got to chapter 5, I was amazed at how many of the activities Paul called “works of the flesh” I was talented in.
“But the fruit of the Spirit,” he wrote, “is”… then he listed 9 empowerments. These were not actions or motivations, like the carnal list he had just shared. These were characteristics of the nature of our God.
When I decide to allow Him, He can replace the hatred or jealousy or lust that happens to appear in my mind or heart on days with agapé, which wants to bless, not abuse. He can displace my doubts and fears with faith and peace and patience. He can change my actions from anger and revenge to kindness and goodness. And it is instantaneous if I allow it to be.
The slow, drawn out, difficulty in the process is in my making of the decision to be changed by His power. At first, all that changes is my response. The more I allow His influence, though, the more I become one with Him, and the more His character becomes my character. I become mature in Him.