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The Spirit guides us to beautiful relationships

February 2, 2024
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Daily Scripture

Galatians 5:22-26

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.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

To the churches in Galatia, the apostle Paul listed key qualities God offers to grow in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Who wouldn’t want those qualities in a spouse, a date, a friend, or a co-worker? Paul gave the Holy Spirit center stage. As scholar N. T. Wright put it, “The nine qualities Paul lists in verses 22–23 are not things which, if we try hard enough, we could simply do without help, without the spirit.” *

  • Paul clearly believed that God’s people could depend on the Holy Spirit’s guidance. But the Spirit seldom confronts us with flashing billboards. (If that happens, we’d better definitely pay attention!) God’s guidance usually reaches us in quiet, subtle ways. What steps can you (and your partner in any close relationship) take to keep your spiritual “ears” open to the Spirit’s direction? (For a readable list of helpful spiritual practices, click here.)
  • Reflect prayerfully on the qualities the apostle called “the fruit of the Spirit” in verses 22-23. Which of them most appeal to you, and seem to come most naturally? Which of them do you find that you struggle with the most? How do you believe the qualities with which you struggle would deepen and enrich your closest relationships? Do you trust that the Spirit can and will help those qualities grow in you, surely if not instantly?
Prayer

Holy Spirit, plant your fruit in my heart, and teach me how to be good soil in which that fruit can flourish. Let me be a person who gifts others with love, joy, and peace. Amen.

GPS Insights

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe and his wife, Doris, first met in a Resurrection Single Adult Sunday School class in 1997 and were married in what is now the Student Center. They are empty nesters with 2 college-aged sons, Matthew and Jacob. Darren serves as a Couples Small Group co-leader & Men's Group Leader, while volunteering in a variety of other capacities at Resurrection.

I’ve had an on-again/off-again relationship with the Fruit of the Spirit through the years that started when I was in 3rd grade at Margaret Hill McCarter Elementary School. (I may not remember why I walked into the living room, but this is seared into my memory.) It started innocently enough when my teacher, Mrs. Thompson, gave us an assignment: If we had 3 wishes, what would we wish for? We were to draw a picture of our wishes, which would be displayed when our parents came to the Fall Open House. The best drawing by a boy & girl would be posted on the bulletin board.

I’m not very artistic, but I worked diligently on my picture. My 3 wishes were as follows: 

  1. 1 million baseball cards, with a meticulously drawn picture of my favorite baseball card & player,  George Brett.
  2. 1 million football cards, with a detailed picture of my favorite football card & player, O.J. Simpson.(Yep, I know.)
  3. 1 million dollars & an imaginative drawing of what I thought a million-dollar bill would look like. (So, I could buy more baseball & football cards.)

Aside: 1 million was the largest number I could imagine; my Dad didn’t teach me about inflation until I was in 5th grade.

As we walked into the classroom that Tuesday evening, lo & behold, my picture was on the bulletin board as the best drawing by a boy. I was mentally preparing my acceptance speech using my best Ted Baxter impression (“There are so many people I’d like to thank…”), when I noticed the best drawing by a girl: Tami. Tami was a member of my church, attended my Sunday school class, sang in the children’s choir with me, and, to be blunt, was my arch-nemesis. (You may think I was a tad young to have an arch-nemesis, but my worldview at the time was shaped by Superman & Batman comic books.) Her 3 wishes, written on pink construction paper & accompanied by hearts, stars, & rainbows, were simply “Love, Joy & Peace.”

My jaw dropped. As my friend, Scooby-Doo, would gloomily say, “Rut-Roh.”

I knew then that little Darren John’s life was not going to be the same. My mother wept for days. She asked, “’How could we be raising such a materialistic child, why aren’t you paying attention in Sunday school,” & on & on. My final argument, in my ultimately futile defense, was, “Who can even draw a picture of what love, joy & peace look like?”

Flashing forward to today, I would submit that we all can still struggle to describe a life of love, joy & peace. Yet, if we seek to be in relationships, be it marital or just friendships, with people who exhibit these qualities we know that we need to be striving to develop these traits in our own lives. How might we do this?

What if we viewed the Fruits of the Spirit as a chain reaction? We start with love, the basis of all Christianity. As we come to love God, as Jesus charged, with all of our heart, soul, mind & strength, we then can begin to experience a joy that transcends mere happiness. As our journey continues, we begin to experience peace when our intentions & our actions are in sync. As our love for God grows, we then start to follow Christ’s guidance with the 2nd greatest commandment, “to love others as we love ourselves” & our love becomes directed outwardly and we begin to practice patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, & gentleness to our neighbors, friends, & family. After we focus on the needs & concerns of others, we can circle back & focus on our inner challenges & begin to enjoy self-control.

You’ll be relieved to know that my view of the Fruit of the Spirit has evolved over time. While these goals can still be elusive & challenging, I now wish to strive to exhibit these benefits of being in a walk with God a bit more each day. (And yes, I boldly pray that they could be demonstrated a million times over.)

PS: While my artwork has been lost to the vestiges of time, along with my critically acclaimed depiction of a Kansas wheat-field using only macaroni, spaghetti, & 8 ounces of Elmer’s Glue, I still treasure my favorite cards:

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Wright, N. T., Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 71). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.