If we partake of the Sacrament worthily, we are promised to have the Spirit with us. As I go throughout my day, what are some good indicators that I have the Spirit?
I’ve been known for a little gardening, and on occasion have planted and harvested tomatoes. Like all plants, tomatoes need water. I can rely on the spring and the fall rains to provide the water, but once summer hits and the rainfall gets less predictable, I need to keep track of any nightly rainfall so I can water as appropriate. I learned this lesson early on when I had bumper harvests after regular rains and a bummer crop during sparser times.
The companionship of the Spirit is similar. I find for many of us, it’s easier to recognize the flashfloods of inspiration that grow the foundation of testimony. Far more difficult is feeling the ever-present companionship like a dependable dew or hourly mist. Like my tomatoes, the best evidence of whether or not we “always have” the Spirit with us is to examine the fruit.
Paul contrasted the carnal life with the Spirit-filled life. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like”. If you find yourself filled with the wrath, reviling, envy, or strife, that’s a pretty good indication that you aren’t getting the spiritual nourishment that you need. On the contrary, if you are you’ll find your life filled with the fruits of such. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:19-23).
The real test of the Spirit-life is not based on if you feel murderous or gentleness in this instant (after all, a single watering hardly makes for a great crop), but whether such love or hatred is a personal theme. Once a week take an assessment on which of these qualities are most in tune with your walk. Are you better described as variant or longsuffering? Does joy or life follow in your wake? I find the quiet moments during the Sacrament are a great time to ask myself such questions. It’s also wholely appropriate to pray for help in the upcoming week for help in living these principles, while expressing gratitude for the assistance received in the previous week.
The engineer in me has to address one aspect of my suggestion. If meekness, joy, and peace are the evidences of the Spirit (and not the Spirit itself), then working to increase these will game the test. Fortunately, the advice I’ve given for increasing these metrics is the very thing that improves the actual heart of the matter. If you recognize that you need to reduce the fleshy aspects of your life and increase the heavenly, the knowledge you need can only be delivered by …. the Spirit! So any improvement in these areas will come with an increase in the companionship you seek.