The Other Road | Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 | ESV
The alternative? The path your higher Spirit-led self would lead you into? Organic. Personal. Fruitful. You can’t make this stuff up! It’s what grows in you, through you, around you. It is the way of love that sees people, that stoops to wash their feet; the way of boundless, contagious, off-the-wall joy; of radical, risky peacemaking; of seeing endless possibilities in the most impossible people
and…..waiting…. for…… it; of a deep-seated kindness that cannot be contained; of an active goodness that continually flings open the pantry doors to all comers; of seeing divine possibilities and believing in them despite all evidence to the contrary; of a yielding spirit that totally works around the needs of others rather than asserting its own agenda; of a heart reined in under the reign of God. Connection. Ultimate. Wondrous. We can’t get enough of it – and even the Law is gobsmacked by the Glory. Galatians 5:22-23 | MAV
The “fruit of the Spirit.” Nine qualities that are frequently turned into a nine-session sermon series. And while that can be a productive exercise, such handling of this fruit can miss something very crucial. It is one fruit, with nine aspects or sides to it (notice it’s the fruit of the Spirit, not fruits). In the oldest manuscripts, these nine qualities would have been written out as one long word with no punctuation marks: lovejoypeacepatiencekindnessgoodnessfaithmeeknessselfcontrol. When ancient writers made lists, if they wanted you to pause over each item they would essentially insert “and” between each, the “and” serving as a signal to linger over each successive item and weigh it carefully. With no “and” you were intended to see the list as something of a composite sketch. And so here we have a composite sketch of the spiritual life with nine aspects of “shading” – or, alternately, a portrait of love as the fruit of the spiritual life with eight attributes filling out the picture of love and making it 3D. It is the whole picture we must linger over. There is a direction, a momentum of life-giving connection we are meant to catch here. And that is the other crucial bit to grasp: this is fruit. We really can’t make this stuff up. Our lower religious self loves to turn fruit into imperatives, into commands that kill on our latest “to-do” list. The one imperative here is connection. To be connected to the tree is to have its nourishing sap flowing through you, and the result is, ultimately, fruit. Turning a fruit tree into an assembly production line = a bad business.
Which aspect of the fruit of the Spirit do you find most challenging? What is the way on – the way to seeing this fruit borne more richly in our lives?
Spirit of God, breathe into my nostrils the breath of life and let me become a living soul in you. Bring your fruit to full, rich, deepening maturity in my life. May many freely eat from the branches of my life, and may the leaves be for the healing of a broken world. Through Jesus.
The whole text this week is Galatians 5:16-26. Read it daily in it’s entirety from a few different translations if possible.
For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.