Every time we choose to do the right thing, when no one is watching, we're reinforcing our integrity and it gets a little easier to do the right thing the next time. It helps sweeps out the darker corners of our hearts where nasty things like bitterness and spite like to make themselves comfortable. The good stuff, in essence sows seeds into our hearts. Ever notice how plants are much bigger than the seeds they come from? God grows those seeds in our hearts. Eventually they grow into more good stuff that produce more fruit... and that stuff takes up even more space... which means, it nudges out more of the crud. Eventually, our heart is overtaken by the things that do us the most good.
Romans 12:21 (NIV)
"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
Galatians 5:22-23 (NCV)
"But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong."
I love the way The Message translation words Galatians 5:22-23. The Message is not a literal translation of the Bible. It's a paraphrasing of ideas. Sometimes, especially when you're new to studying the Word, the language of the more literal translations can be hard to read. The Message is nice because it paints word pictures of what the Bible says in a modern context and it's sometimes easier to understand.
Galatians 5:22-23 (The Message)
"But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified."
Living life in such a way that bitterness, impatience, and unkindness do not rule my heart is better.
Don't you think so?