“For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against these things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
The apostle Paul wrote his letter to the church in Galatia in an attempt to strongly remind them that adhering to religious law was a dreadful return to captivity. They had abandoned the character traits that the Holy Spirit had already embedded in them in their fear of freedom, and had returned to the familiar: following religious law. They were allowing the law, instead of guidance from the Holy Spirit, to define their behavior.
The Galatians were afraid that freedom would lead them to sin. They did not understand that surrendering to the Holy Spirit would take away their desire to sin; they did not understand that surrender would replace sinful desire with faith, character, grace and love.
Beginning next week, I am offering a 9-week series on the fruit of the Spirit. What qualifies me to do this? Absolutely nothing. Except that I am a disciple. I am learning, too. I have the same Spirit abiding in me that lived in Paul, and the apostles, and you. I seek to walk the narrow path, I stumble, I ask forgiveness, and I am given forgiveness, grace and mercy that I don’t deserve. I have culled wisdom from friends, pastors, speakers, Scripture, biblical commentary, and nine poets who have graciously agreed to collaborate with me. I am indebted to these poets who have offered their time, love and grace to me when their plates were already full.
Each week’s blog will offer thoughts on a seed of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. They do not stand alone. Those nine seeds are like the ingredients of a recipe. There is an interplay and interaction between them. These are the personality of Christ, one that he wants us to adopt, and the Spirit does not want us to leave out a single part. If we do, it would change the recipe of our character.
There is a parable Jesus told of a sower of seeds. Jesus explained to the 12 disciples that this seed is the Word of God. Some seeds fell on the path and was eaten by birds. Some seed fell on rocky ground without much soil; the seed sprang up but, since there was no depth of soil, there was no root it and it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns – the cares, worries and desires of this world – and the seed was choked and yielded no fruit. Other seeds fell into good soil and it produced fruit, yielding 30, 60 and 100 times what was planted. (Mark 4:1-20)
Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love* refers to this parable and writes, “My caution to you is this: Do not assume you are good soil…Thorns are anything that distracts us from God. When we want God and a bunch of other stuff, then that means we have thorns in our soil. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top of it.”
Chan echoes Oswald Chambers,** who writes, “A warning which needs to be repeated is that, ‘the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches,’ and the lust for other things, will choke out the life of God in us (Matthew 13:22). We are never free from the recurring waves of this invasion. If the frontline of attack is not about clothes and food, it may be about money or the lack of money; or friends or lack of friends; or the line may be drawn over difficult circumstances. It is one steady invasion, and these things will come in like a flood unless we allow the Spirit of God to raise up the banner against it.”
My pastor at Cornerstone Fellowship, Billy Rieder, said,
“Fruit takes time to ripen and sweeten. It does not happen overnight; the tree and the Son bring life to the fruit.”
My aim is not to throw out random verses or proverbial sayings. My hope and prayer is, through Scripture and the wisdom of others, to present you with a deeper meaning of Spirit living, a message that might carry you through the rest of the year.
A message that’s not just remembered at Christmas or Easter, but one that “will be on your heart. One that you will teach to your children, and will talk of when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
Discipleship is a lifetime journey; it takes practice, just like anything worthwhile. One of my daily prayers is asking the Spirit to help me practice and produce his fruit in my thoughts, my spoken word, my written word and in my actions. I pray this because know I can’t do it on my own, and I know the Holy Spirit helps me in my weakness.
As the apostle Paul wrote,
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:12-15)
This post can also be found at Mind’s Seat, www.marmarthunder.wordpress.com