Today’s Reading: Galatians 5
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, LET US FOLLOW THE SPIRIT’S LEADING in every part of our lives. – Galatians 5:22-25
We talk a lot about OUTCOMES at the Pregnancy Resource Center – end results or consequences of our actions or services. We know who we are and what we have been called by God to do, but we also know what the result of our ministry could or should look like. We take measurements and ask the question – Are we accomplishing what God is calling us to do?
In Galatians, we learn that the fruit of the Spirit is the outcome of the Spirit dwelling within us. This fruit (singular) has nine different characteristics, the first of which is LOVE. God is not speaking here of “eros” love (longings or desires, most often associated with the love between a man and a woman) or “philos” love (the love of a friend for a friend). The fruit of the Spirit is characterized by “agape” love, which is divine.
1 Corinthians 13 is a great description of agape love – love that seems impossible of our own strength. Agape love is patient, kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs, not delighting in evil but rejoicing in the truth; always protecting, always trusting, always hoping, always persevering. And here’s the big one – Love never fails.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t fool myself into believing that I can reproduce that kind of love. Only God is capable of agape. Agape is not a feeling but a response regardless of the feeling, fueled by the needs of others and not by my own desires. When I completely surrender to the Spirit, he will express agape love through me – for agape love demands to be shown and lived out.
So, as I draw close to God and spend time in His presence, He fills me with the Holy Spirit and the result of this indwelling is fruit. My roots grow deeper and wider, and the result of that growth is increased fruit. Another fruit of the Spirit living within me is JOY.
While recently studying James’ letter, he encouraged us to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds (1:2). This is the kind of joy he was referring to – not a false joy we have to create on our own or a happy face we need to paint on to fool people, but joy that is fruit from the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. Then, not only will we experience joy in the midst of trials, we will also experience PEACE.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit that helps us persevere and not give into our circumstances is PATIENCE – to focus on the hope that is before us so that we can endure the moment we are living in today. We live in expectation or hope of what we will receive, confidence that persevering through difficult times is worth it. Hope is not a focus on what might happen but what must happen. Patience based on hope helps us to bear difficult circumstances because we are inspired by an expectation of what is to come. This kind of hope is inspired by our Lord Jesus and this kind of patience is a gift from the Spirit.
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness… What better example of KINDNESS than to look at the grace of God that Paul spoke about in his letter to the Galatians. That we are called children of God; that we are forgiven for our sins; that we have been “grafted in” and given life through a relationship with the God who created us – these are all signs that we serve a KIND God. And if we, by grace, have been shown kindness by God, and if we are truly grafted into the one true Vine, kindness should be a natural outflow of the Spirit living within us.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:12-13
Not only is God kind, He is good – all the time! We serve a good God. In the midst of the most difficult of circumstances, it is good to be reminded that God is loving, that He is kind and that He is good. One of my favorite references to the GOODNESS of God can be found in a conversation with Moses:
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” – Exodus 33:18-20
The glory of God is defined by God as goodness, mercy and compassion. So as God desires to be glorified through our lives, He places His Spirit in us to produce the kind of fruit that brings God glory – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And He adds to that list: grace, compassion, humility, forgiveness, mercy and deeds prompted by faith – All of this by His power and for His glory!
Oh Lord, you are SO good. You are a kind and merciful God and I am humbled in your presence. Thank you for your grace – for your mercy and compassion towards us. Father, I give you permission to make me worthy of your calling. I cannot be consistently good and kind on my own. By your power, bring to fruition the desire of my heart to be kind and to live a good life. Fill me with your Spirit so that every good thing coming out of my life is a result of the work of the Spirit, my time in your presence and my faith in you. May the name of the Lord Jesus be glorified in me, and me in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.