Thursday 30 August 2012

Bible Book:

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 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 be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another." (vv. 22-26)

Galatians 5:2-26 Thursday 30 August 2012


Paul's main concern in his letter to the Galatian church is thatrather than seeking out the freedom offered to them by Christ, theyappear to be binding themselves to the slavish restrictions of theJewish law. He repeatedly stresses the freedom that Christians candiscover when they shake off the restrictions of the law andinstead allow themselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

But this doesn't mean that the Christian life is free fromobligations - it's not a carte blanche to do whatever you fancy.Here, Paul argues that a life without law must not be allowed toslip into 'lawlessness'. Those who are "led by the Spirit" provetheir allegiance to God by adhering to a high moral standard, andsince they have chosen the path of the Spirit, they can no longerallow themselves to be ruled by "the flesh", or their baser,selfish instincts.

A few years ago, Channel 4 aired a series called  'Make me a Christian' in which a group of volunteerswith different backgrounds gave up their normal lives and attemptedto live 'like Christians' for three weeks. This involved a ban onpre-marital sex, curbing alcohol consumption and (for some unclearreason) foraging for berries in the wilderness. But this all seemeda bit of a nonsense to me. The Christian life does indeed carrywith it moral obligations, but simply going through the motionsdoes not automatically 'make you a Christian'. Those who allowthemselves to be "guided by the Spirit" as Paul mentions here,behave (or do not behave) in certain ways because of theirrelationship with Christ. 'Right living' flows from a richrelationship with Jesus and from living a life that is receptive tothe guidance and assistance that God has to offer.

And it's not just about the things we do or avoid doing - much ofPaul's emphasis is on attitude and relationships. Check out howmany of the sins in his list (verses 19-21) have to do withunhealthy or broken relationships. And not only must we avoid thesesins and the attitudes in which they originate, we must also seekafter the "fruit of the Spirit", whose presence testifies that theindividual has allowed the Spirit to guide their daily living.Again, these are all about attitude and cannot be bound or dictatedby a set of rules like the law.

To Ponder

  • Read the list of the "fruit of the Spirit" again. Which ofthese come most naturally to you? Which do you find moredifficult?
  • What can you do to nurture the fruit of the Spirit in yourselfand others?
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