6/26/23 Devotional from Ed
June 26, 2023
Text: Galatians 5:22-26 (CEB Version)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the self with its passions and its desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit. 26 Let’s not become arrogant, make each other angry, or be jealous of each other.
This particular text above was the one we used in worship at Camp Fellowship last night. During worship, I played a “social barometer” game, which included asking each of the campers to go to one of the following stations as each fruit of the Spirit was called out:
Station 1: “I have a lot of this quality.”
Station 2: “I sometimes have this quality.”
Station 3: “I rarely demonstrate this quality.”
I was happy to see that all of the campers went to station 1 for “love” and “goodness.” Most went to station 1 for “kindness” (sibling qualifier questions were asked) and “peace,” and the majority went to station 1 for “gentleness” and “faithfulness.”
However, the campers struggled with “patience” and “self-control,” as many went to station 3. I don’t find this surprising, as many of us like to move quickly, and it showed me that these ancient words from Paul still resonate today.
Paul, however, would argue that we should make station 1 our goal for all of these fruits. We have to go “all in,” according to Paul.
It would be hard to find anyone who would disagree with Paul’s description of living by the Spirit, as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control are all aspirational in our daily lives. However, there is that important verse near the end – the one that gives us that short imperative: “Let’s follow the Spirit.”
Following the Spirit sounds great, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t want to be a recipient of love, kindness and goodness? However, did you catch, though, that Paul gives us an important phrase before the command? He says if we live by the Spirit, then follow it. It works both ways. Live by it, then follow it.
An irony in Paul’s letter to the Galatians is we get this beautiful, warm text above in the body of a letter that is seemingly written in anger. Paul spends a portion of letter reminding the early Church followers what it means to be disciples of Christ, reminding us of the point he succinctly makes in his letter to the Romans: “Let your heart be circumcised.”
If we allow each of these fruits to nourish our souls, then the heart will follow the Spirit.
Prayer: Holy God, we ask for a fresh anointing of your Spirit today. May your Spirit fall upon each of us so we can lean into these challenging words from Paul and continue to become the disciple you call each of us into becoming. Amen.