Those Who Do Such Things Will Not Inherit

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. — Paul writing to the followers in Galatia

Let’s be honest with ourselves. Did we read through that list of works and think about each word? Or did we just glance through thinking, “Oh, joy, another one of Paul’s lists. I don’t do any of those, so I can skip this part.”

I haven’t slept with women outside of marriage. (What was it that Jesus said about looking at another woman with lust in the heart? Oh, never mind.) I haven’t tried to predict the future (sorcery) through some magic (statistics?). Hmmm. Did I get angry? Well, it was justified. He was an idiot. Did I create dissension in the community? I’m certainly not jealous of anyone–except I do look at the catalogs and dream of being like the models pictured there.

Paul was discussing freedom. How do we handle freedom? Are we mature and responsible? Or, are we adolescent, rebellious, do-whatever-we-want types of people?

Honest now. What have you posted on Facebook or Instagram or whatever this week? Did you try to be funny or cute? Was it really funny? Or did it degrade another human being loved by God from an attitude of moral superiority?

It is so easy to look at this list and think it’s about other people. It’s not about other people. It’s about all people–including me, including you.

I don’t think we understand Paul’s answer in the next paragraph about the fruit of the Spirit until we digest and take responsibility for our own participation in the works of the flesh.

We can listen to John Adams’ admonition about the American experiment with democracy that it only works with a moral society and think it only applies to other people.

When we understand our participation in the works of the flesh, then and only then can we really start to live into the fruit of the spirit.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To paraphrase a famous movie line, “I want what she’s having.” I’m wondering if this isn’t one of those things we should read early each morning to get our mind focused correctly for the day.

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