“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” ~Gal. 5:24-26
To my surprise, I realized that I had written on the final fruit of the Spirit last week. I had thought I had kindness still left, but I realized I accidentally combined that with the letter on gentleness. But I have one more thing to say before we leave the fruit of the Spirit. Look at Paul’s words above. What do those words mean to you? In the past, I’ve read those words many times and my reaction is almost always the same. My first thought is that I’ve failed miserably at Paul’s opening comment. So I start thinking about how to improve. After those initial thoughts, however, my mind becomes occupied with other things and I cease to remember Paul’s admonitions. Yet think about what this means. Think about what comes before it. Paul spends an entire chapter rejecting sinful passions and lusts and upholding godly desires and traits. In some ways the final verses of chapter five may sound a little repetitive, but if we did not have this reminder we would quickly forget what came before. I’m sure that you, like me, have the fruit of the Spirit memorized (maybe in part due to the song a Family Camp a few year back :). But I’d guess that you, again like me, don’t have the preceding verses memorized. Why? Why do we choose to memorize only the godly traits without attempting to remember the evil ones? True, in some cases, memorizing sinful attributes can increase temptations, but leaving it out of memorization can also be destructive. Most mornings, after my Bible study, I try and see how I can apply the passage to my own life. Right now I’m working through Jeremiah, so this morning I asked myself how the proclamations against Israel apply to me. After a moment, I realized two things: 1) God keeps His word. All the way back in Deuteronomy, the Lord warned the Israelites what would happen if they didn’t obey and when the Israelites rebelled, sure enough, it happened. 2) It serves as a warning to me. Israel was punished because they were guilty of the sins listed by Paul in Gal. 5:16-21. So, returning back to today’s passage, look again at what Paul says. In three sentences he sums up the entire chapter. Belonging to Christ means crucifying the lusts of the flesh and clinging to the fruit of the Spirit. Yet even in obeying the Lord there is temptation. In our most humble moments we begin to feel pride at our humility. When others are blessed, we question why we weren’t. At times we even try to parade our good traits and in that way provoke others. So what should we do? How can we walk by the Spirit? How do we become loving and peaceful and joyful and patient and self-controlled? The answer: reject sin, crucify the flesh, and, like David, say “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.” (Psalm 4:1) Above all, fall on your face before an Almighty God, thanking Him for the work of Christ in your life and recognize that nothing will happen unless He brings it to pass.
Your brother in Christ,