And, in the blink of an eye, November is over. I don’t know about you, but November flew by—I can’t believe we’re already into December. It’s been such a joy to read through the individual aspects of the fruit of the Spirit together. I have been encouraged and challenged every step of the way. It’s been amazing how meditating on these common verses has become a regular rhythm for me.
Recently, I have been challenged by the fact that grace always requires more than the Law ever did. Relationship will take you further than rules. And we see this concept play out here in Galatians 5.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
The Old Testament is filled with various commands from God—far more than just the 10 famous ones—and there’s no way we can fulfill them all in our own strength. If we are living by the Holy Spirit, then of course we’re going to fulfill the various rules and components of the Old Testament Law. But if our aim is to fulfill the letter of the Law, we will never live like the Spirit.
This reminds me of the Pharisees who specialized in knowing (and even making up) the rules, which they were always sure to fulfill in public. They were so focused on obeying the letter of the Law, instead of understanding the heart and character of the God they were attempting to serve. Though this group actively hated and worked against Jesus, I empathize with them… a lot. Like them, I can get hyper-focused on the wrong things. I can get mixed up in seeking accolades for myself instead of glorifying God. I can get focused on looking good on the outside instead of being aware of what’s happening on the inside.
Behavior modification can be alluring, but the Holy Spirit is inviting us to heart change.
When I look back through the fruit of the Spirit again, I am reminded that each of these characteristics starts from within and works its way out. It can be a slow process that happens over time. And I think there’s beauty in that slow work of becoming more like Jesus. We don’t have to strive to look good on the outside or try and prove our fruitfulness—instead, we can continue to submit to the Holy Spirit daily (even hourly), and rest in his work.
I want to share one last thought about Galatians 5 to wrap up this particular series: God is deeply relational. The entire Bible is the story of God wanting to be with his people. And even here, we see an invitation to a deeper relationship with him.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25 (ESV)
What image comes to mind when you read this verse? Who or what do you picture?
I think this verse is so precious. I picture a little kid and an adult walking together along an idyllic dirt road into the sunset (maybe I’ve been watching too many movies lately). The kid is trying to match the parent’s steps, sometimes with success, other times face-planting in the process. Sometimes the kid gets distracted by a butterfly or a shiny object, but the parent always lovingly calls them back.
Have you ever tried to stay in sync with someone else?
Have you ever wanted to stay in step with someone else?
To me, this screams intimacy. I wouldn’t want to stay in lockstep with someone who I didn’t like or didn’t enjoy being around.
The amazing thing is that God wants to walk with us. He enjoys our presence. He invites on this intimate, life-long journey of walking with him. There will probably be awkward moments of silence, times of uproarious laughter, and arguments about which direction to go and at what pace, but we can continue on this loving journey together.
At the end of the day, the fruit of the Spirit isn’t a list of to-dos, but is a reminder of our intimate relationship with our loving God. And that’s a beautiful thing indeed!
What stands out most to you about the fruit of the Spirit?
What does being “in step” with the Holy Spirit practically mean to you?
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