1: “We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong. Do not change and go back into the slavery of the law.” – Paul summarizes his argument by suggesting that once we turn to Christ we should not go backwards. Our lives are changed by our faith in ways never achievable by simply following the law.
13: “My brothers and sisters, God called you to be free, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful self. Serve each other with love.” – In our calling we are given a wonderful vision of God’s kingdom and a dream of what life on earth could be like. However, this does not provide us Carte Blanche to act self-righteously. Love for one another must be our guiding principle.
15: “If you go on hurting each other and tearing each other apart, be careful, or you will completely destroy each other.” – Like sharks in a feeding frenzy, anything in our path could be destroyed by our carelessness.
17: “Our sinful selves want what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is against our sinful selves.” – A battle rages within.
19-21: “The wrong things the sinful self does are clear: being sexually unfaithful, not being pure, taking part in sexual sins, 20worshiping gods, doing witchcraft, hating, making trouble, being jealous, being angry, being selfish, making people angry with each other, causing divisions among people, 21feeling envy, being drunk, have wild and wasteful parties, and doing other things like these. I warn you now as I warned you before: Those who do these things will not inherit God’s kingdom.” – Paul is holding up a mirror that reveals the rotten fruit in our lives.
22-23: “But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control.” – These are the guideposts that can be seen along our pathway to holiness.
25: “We get our new life from the Spirit, so we should follow the Spirit.” – He will show us the way.
Points to Contemplate:
Are you making excuses?
Are you stepping on toes as you push through your agenda in the name of Jesus? Has your passion for His kingdom created a bull-in-the-china-closet approach in your ministry? Have you enjoyed being righteous? Are all of your actions acceptable simply because you feel you are responding to God’s vision and plan for your life? Is your ministry so important that the end justify the means?
What was your latest battle? Who did you fight? Could there have been a different approach? Did blood have to flow or fur fly? How do you balance the importance of a ministry program that God has instilled in your heart with a loving spirit towards those who seemingly are standing in the way? How do you overcome barriers of resistance without injuring those in your path? How can you accomplish what God has called you to do if you are humbly stepping aside to avoid conflict? Is Paul suggesting that love is more important than doing and achieving?
Can you identify your rotten fruit? For a moment resist jumping to the verses on the fruit of the Spirit and dwell, first, on the negative traits Paul lists. Do you find yourself in this list? Is the mirror that Paul is holding before you filled with ugliness and wrongfulness? Are you causing divisions among people? Are your actions tearing down the kingdom while your words attempt to build it up? Are you doing more harm than good? Do you realize that one harmful act can undo years of ministry efforts? Should you be looking into Paul’s mirror more often?
Is the Spirit producing fruit in your life? Can others see evidence of Him working in you? If the leaders of your church were putting together a list of people whose lives exhibited fruitfulness from being Spirit-led, would your name appear? Do you find more of your traits listed in the Fruits of the Spirit or in the list of sinful ways? After this reflection, what steps should you take to allow Christ’s transforming love into your heart? Should you find new ways to be sensitive to His Spirit to insure you are following Him every step of the way? Should you constantly pray for God to reveal your faults and mend your spirit? Closing Prayer:
Loving Father, thank you for today’s lesson from Paul. We have not been the Christians you are calling us to be. We have set aside love for passion. We have hurt people with our comments. We have been selfishly focused on what we think is the right way to building your kingdom and have not seen how you are working in other peoples lives around us. All the good that we have done has been for our glory not yours. We listen to your Spirit, learn a lesson or two, and then head off with our own agenda, pushing people aside and building walls. No wonder building the kingdom is difficult. No wonder that everything we try to do meets resistance. It is our rotten fruit that we carry with us wherever we go that gets in the way. It not only is a barrier, it destroys the good you have created. Forgive us Father for our blindness. Forgive us for our sins. Help us to be more aware of how our actions are being perceived in the world around us. Help us set aside our destructive tendencies – our rotten fruit. Fill us with your Spirit and lead us along your paths of righteousness so that you can produce the fruit of the Spirit through us. Help us to be more loving in everything we do. This is our prayer. Amen.