Posts Tagged ‘fruit of the spirit’

God’s Kindness Leads to Our Changing Our Life

January 18, 2017

Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? — Paul, to the Roman church

If you judge other people as to the things they do that are wrong, you judge yourself as well.

Paul was very clear. He listed all the moral wrongs that people do. He must have realized that when people heard that list, they would immediately assume that the list applied to other people. Then he hits them, hard, by saying in essence that you also do things morally wrong. How is it then that you can sit there with righteous face on condemning others? You also are condemned.

But Paul doesn’t leave us just hanging out there condemned. He offers an alternative.

Already in the letter he hints at the theme. God’s grace.

Is repentance one of those words that triggers images of mean-spirited men or women with frowning faces, pointing fingers, shouting at you that you’re going to hell?

Actually all it means is that where once your life journey took you to places with people that you should not have gone to and with. Then you decide, with God’s help, to turn in a different direction and live life differently.

Instead of following our passions, our emotions, our “friends”, we start acting according to the many examples we can find from Jesus and Paul and others.

We put God first.

We help those in need.

Our lives reflect the fruit of the spirit–love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

(Me, I’m working on that forbearance part. What about you?)

We practice the spiritual disciplines–study, prayer, meditation, living simply, quiet, celebration, worship, and the rest.


Those Who Do Such Things Will Not Inherit

November 10, 2016

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.

It’s Not Freedom From, But Rather Freedom For

November 3, 2016

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.  Kris Kristofferson, Me and Bobby McGee

Kristofferson had just lost his girlfriend as Bobby McGee disappeared one night growing tired of their nomadic life. Now he was free. But for what?

As we were checking out what Paul was saying to the disciples in the Galatian provinces yesterday, we found that Paul said we were free. Free from the burden of following the law. But we were also warned about what not to do and to do. Don’t engage in self-indulgence, but rather love your neighbor.

I researched for a book on freedom when I was in grad school. Built a Website called Spirit and Freedom. Never finished either one.

But I was fascinated by the differing ideas on freedom. Some say, “I’m free from the law, now I can do anything I want.” Others say, “I’m free from the law, now I can live a fulfilled life in service to others.”

Freedom from….Freedom for.

Which have you chosen?

Paul describes the two paths.

On the one hand, the self-indulgence one, one finds

  • fornication
  • impurity
  • licentiousness
  • idolatry
  • sorcery
  • enmities
  • strife
  • jealousy
  • anger
  • quarrels
  • dissensions
  • factions
  • envy
  • drunkenness
  • carousing

On the other hand, we find

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • generosity
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

Then he concludes this last list–“There is no law against such things.”

What!? If we live like that last list, we don’t have to worry about being arrested?

Kristofferson doesn’t really say what happens with the new-found freedom. Mostly wishes for the good old days, I guess.

We can look at these two lists, though, and decide daily–which will be the way we use our freedom?