Click here to watch my video reflection on our text for today, or keep reading for my written reflections:
Today as one of our readings, we look at Galatians 5: 16-26:
16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.
Today’s reading is one of the most well known in all the Bible, the Fruit of the Spirit. But I always like the contrast in this passage between the Works of the Flesh in the first section and the Fruit of the Spirit. I think it is an interesting contrast. It always reminds me of Romans 6:23, which contrasts the wages of sin and the gift of God. Today we seek works versus fruit.
We see that the works of the flesh – fornication, sorcery, envy, anger, things such as these. I always love the way that Paul lists sins. He always starts off with what they are doing and winds us with what we are doing. Yeah God, get those folks who are fornicating! And doing witchcraft. Angry? Envy? Wait, hold up, that’s stuff I do. Paul sees sins as a great leveling agent. We all have it, we all do it, and we are all guilty of it. For Paul it’s not them and then us, it’s all of us. That’s the works of the flesh.
But the Fruit of the Spirit flows from the Spirit. It’s not a work, it’s not a wage, it’s not me bowing up and saying that I want to be more kind today. It’s me getting out of the way and allowing the Spirit to make me more kind. It’s not me doing it. It’s the Spirit doing it.
The Works of the Flesh are what I do. The Fruit of the Spirit is what the Spirit does in and through me. That’s the beginning of sanctification. Not me bowing up and doing it, but me getting out of the way and allowing the Spirit to do it through me and in me.
Today, who’s in charge? Everything that flows comes from that.
So, when thinking through these things, this is the key question. Who’s in charge? Me or the Spirit? The answer to that question will give the answer to what is produced.
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