But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Back in January (in Book 1), I called attention to this scripture. It’s one of my favorites, and I believe it warrants another look.
Paul says of the fruit of the Spirit, “Against such there is no law.” It’s like the unlimited quantities of certain food items you can have on a diet.
For those who criticize Christianity, they often point to the lengthy list of prohibitions. “Too many thou-shalt-nots,” they say.
Galatians 5:22-23 is a thou-shalt-do list of character traits that reveal the presence of the Spirit, and the degree to which we have surrendered ourselves to God’s instruction.
I use this passage for giving myself a spiritual checkup. Is this the person I am? Where are my deficiencies? What needs improvement?
My first pursuit in life, of any consequence, was to become a musician. To possess the title was easy. Checked the box from among the electives available on my prospective eighth grade schedule. Soon after, I was assigned an instrument, shown how to blow out a sound, and declared an official band member. Voila. Musician.
It didn’t take long for me to wonder what I had gotten myself into. Making a sound that didn’t frighten the neighbors seemed improbable — if not impossible.
The band director wanted us to take our horns home every day and practice, practice, practice. I didn’t bargain for all of that. I just wanted to be a musician and get one of those cool band uniforms.
That’s the way many of us approach Christianity. “I want to be a Christian. What do I have to do? Oh, confess my sins and invite Jesus into my life. Well, okay then. I’m a Christian.”
And then someone says, “Now. You must study and put into practice what you learn.”
“Okay. How long will that take?”
“The rest of your life, until you go to be with Jesus.”
After I made a commitment to become a professional musician, I devoted myself to memorizing scales, arpeggios, and mastering volumes of trombone pedagogy. Worked at it off and on for over fifty years and still had plenty of room for improvement.
Applied to the Christian life, the Bible is our method book. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
Musicians demonstrate their progress to educators and potential employers in auditions and recitals. Each showcase follows strict guidelines to test their mastery of technical and musical skills.
That’s why I like Galatians 5:22-23. It takes into account the body of all that I’ve studied and reveals my mastery of, or lack thereof, of godly Christian behavior.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
How does your behavior stack up to each of the listed character qualities?
By the way, if you want an exhaustive list of unacceptable behavior, Paul offers that too, in Galatians 5. “… sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” (Ephesians 5:19-21)
Paul calls this abhorrent behavior “obvious,” (v19) and warns that “that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (v21b)
From there he changes his focus to the behavior of the Christian who WILL inherit the kingdom who is genuinely saved, and an authentic Christian — the real deal.
How does the fruit of the Spirit list measure up to your behavior in your speech and thinking; your relationship to family, spouse, children, relatives, co-workers, employer, friends, acquaintances, and everyone you meet?
Paul has told us what we should not be and what we should be. Your choice. You can be the blighted tree — without water or nutrients, dried up, shriveled, decayed, ugly, and useless, or the beautiful tree abounding in healthy good fruit and a blessing to all who come near.
For more on this topic, check out this article: How to Walk By the Spirit
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.