Today’s reading: Galatians 1-6; Ephesians 1-6; Philippians 1-4; Psalm 139
“. . .the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” Galatians 5:22
Paul is beside himself. How could the Galatians have gotten off track so quickly? When he was with them, he had laid out the good news to them so clearly–through God’s gift of grace, Jesus came to save them from the law of sin and death and set them free for new life. In his absence, however, it seems that other teachers have sprung up and steered the Galatians in the wrong direction–one that binds them to the law as the means by which they must prove themselves. Paul writes the letter to the Galatians to clear things up and to reprimand them for being led astray so easily.
One of the most recognizable parts of the letter is found in chapter 5, where he sets up a contrast between living according to the flesh and living according to the Spirit. He reminds the Galatians that those who live by the Spirit will reveal certain fruits in their lives. I have heard plenty of sermons and lessons over the years that have placed the emphasis on our striving for these fruits–as if we could accomplish them if we just try hard enough. In the context of Paul’s letter, however, this is a terrible mistake. It turns the fruit into a checklist–a law–by which we will be judged as being good enough or not.
It is exactly the kind of message Paul is fighting. The fruit we bear is the natural outgrowth of the life we choose. If we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives, the fruit will take care of itself. Trusting God to be the master gardener of our souls will produce a bountiful harvest.