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The Spirit shapes a fruitful life

March 7, 2024

Daily Scripture

Galatians 5:16-25

16 I say be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires. 17 A person’s selfish desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires. They are opposed to each other, so you shouldn’t do whatever you want to do. 18 But if you are being led by the Spirit, you aren’t under the Law. 19 The actions that are produced by selfish motives are obvious, since they include sexual immorality, moral corruption, doing whatever feels good, 20 idolatry, drug use and casting spells, hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, 21 jealousy, drunkenness, partying, and other things like that. I warn you as I have already warned you, that those who do these kinds of things won’t inherit God’s kingdom.
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.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

In Roman times (and today) many people think the actions and qualities the apostle Paul listed in Galatians 5:19-21 are part of a good life, “fun” or at least side-effects of having “fun.” But Paul sketched a different vision, saying “you shouldn’t do whatever you want to do,” but should be “led by the Spirit.” A truly good life results as we let God’s Spirit, not our own selfish wishes (literally “flesh” in Greek), direct and control us. He listed nine vital qualities (“fruit) the Spirit will produce in our lives.

  • The many ways humans miss the mark made Paul sad. (Review his examples in verses 19-21, noting how he mixed socially “respectable” actions with things almost everyone rejected.) But he didn’t see self-righteous “goodness” as a better choice (“all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse” —from Galatians 3:6-11). How did his use of the term “fruit” in 5:22 focus attention on the spiritual roots of the nine key Christian traits he listed as growing in our lives?
  • With gentle irony (and deep seriousness) Paul followed his list of the fruit of the Spirit with the phrase, “There is no law against things like this.” Why would anyone make a law against qualities that make life so much better? When have you let go of your own agenda, and found that God had given you something better, deeper and more freeing than the things you used to think you wanted?

Come, Holy Spirit. By your gentle, powerful presence grow your beautiful fruit to fill and guide me to that wonderful life against which there is no law. Amen.

GPS Insights

Ginny Howell

Ginny Howell

Ginny Howell serves as the Worship Experience Director for Resurrection, leading the church’s efforts to provide radical hospitality and an excellent worship experience across all of our locations. She’s a mom to three, g-momma to one sweet little boy, and shares much of her time with her closest companion, a rescued Pit Bull named Lola.

Today’s Scripture has a real laundry list of don’ts that made me raise my eyebrow just a bit as I read through it. As a rule-follower, in general, most things on this list don’t feel like something I’d even ever consider doing. It doesn’t feel like it requires that much discipline if I wasn’t interested in doing it anyway. And then. Then there are other things that feel tricky, like the very mention opens up a whole new chapter in the book of don’ts, one where my name appears more than once or twice.

I don’t know that I’ve ever in my life intentionally thought about casting spells or worshiping idols. But lose my temper, be jealous or be even the slightest bit competitive? Any day of the week, actually. It’s the juxtaposition of these sample actions that helps me recognize the importance of the collection of traits and actions that Paul lists which challenge me to dig a bit deeper and push me out of my comfort zone.

Because it’s not the fruits of the Spirit–multiple fruits that we can pick and choose from in some type of heavily syruped cocktail. Personally, if it was I’d pick out all of the cherries and peaches and leave behind the grapes and pears. The fruit, singular, is made up of everything listed here–the easy and the hard, the good and the bad. If you look at the nutritional information for an apple, a simple (and biblically stereotypical) fruit, you will see a variety of components that are available to us when we eat said fruit. Vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C, protein, sugar–these unique components all come together as part of this simple and delicious fruit. I looked at the ingredient list on the bag of apples I picked up at the store earlier this week and it simply reads “APPLES.”

My ego gets caught up in which fruits I can claim as successfully integrated into my identity. As long as it’s my ego I am leaning on, I will continue to be hungry; malnourished even. Looking to the Spirit, following the Spirit and living by the Spirit as Paul directs will yield a far sweeter fruit that is as God intends.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.