I am in the process of teaching the book of Galatians this fall and we are in the the last half of the 5th chapter of Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia. It’s an interesting book – broken into three distinct sections. Two chapters devoted to Paul’s personal experience, the middle two chapters dedicated to the theology of Christianity and the finals two chapters highlighting ways to practice a God centered life.
It is in this final section that Paul puts forth the idea that we must continue to try and obey by the Law of the Old Testament OR we can accept God’s grace and the gift of eternal life offered in the New Testament. But we can’t do both – because they’re at odds with one another.
In Christianity, Paul implores us to turn over our lives to God. Did you ever see the bumper sticker, “God is my co-pilot”? Paul basically says to us that if we think of God as our co-pilot, we need to change seats! Because there is no way that we can be perfect in this life, but God is. In Galatians 5, Paul lists the work of the flesh as “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”
Conversely, he lists the fruit of the Spirit as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Paul goes on to tell us that it is imperative that we turn our lives over to God and follow His lead. After all, God is perfect and our best life is achieved when we ask God to lead and ask Him to work in us so that He gets the glory.
Notice that the first item mentioned in the fruit of the Spirit is “love”. Everything that follows happens as a result of loving well. In fact, Jesus commands us to love one another. It is from the wellspring of love that joy and all the other wonderful fruit comes from. It is also important that Paul refers to the carnal items as “work” while he refers that good things as “fruit.”
In other words, works are things that we do, while the fruit is the result of our living in and by the Spirit. Paul continues to drive the point home that we need to subordinate ourselves to the Creator. I don’t you about you, but sometimes it is difficult for me to accomplish this. There are times that I get so wound up that I forget that God should be the pilot of my life – not ME!
But, like Christians everywhere, I am a work in progress. And that’s as it should be… Paul even mentions walking in the Spirit. That’s an interesting choice of words. Because when we learn to walk, as little children, we learn by trying and failing (falling down) – then getting back up and trying agin. So it is living in the Spirit. We learn by trying, and failing, and trying to do better next time. We need to extend grace to ourselves when we don’t learn these things as quickly as we would like.
Our verse for tonight is from Galatians 6:25, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” This means that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the chance to live producing “fruit.” And it is a journey, walking with the Spirit, presumably doing better the longer we practice this kind of life.
My encouragement this evening is that although we can’t achieve making all this fruit on our own, all things are possible with God. My prayer is that we will be humble, gentle and kind so that love may abound and we may experience divine joy all the days of our lives. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…