Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Fruitful Christian LivingGalatians 5:16-26
Key Bible Verse: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5: 22-23)
“A man can take himself out of the fight, but he can't take the fight out of himself.” Paul’s letter to the Galatians delves into the internal battle every Christian fight: a battle between the Spirit and the flesh. “Flesh” is defined as the fallen, sinful nature of human beings that includes vices such as pride and self-righteousness, to name a few. Despite having been saved from the bondage of sin through Christ’s death, we still return to the weak affections of the flesh. It can be misunderstood that this battle with sin is an indication that there is something wrong with one’s spiritual life. On the contrary, a Christian is also prone sinful desires but is constantly at war with them. Therefore, it is this very battle with sin that establishes one as being a Christian.
Paul establishes that the Spirit and the flesh cannot coexist; they are incompatible. He contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruits of the Spirit in verses 19-23, calling us to set ourselves apart from earthly desires. Jesus Christ serves as the most outstanding example of someone who embodies the fruits of the Spirit. He died for those who killed him (love), found pleasure in suffering for God’s purpose (joy), and bridged the gap between Man and God through his crucifixion (peace). He served God’s mission for 33 years by willingly taking on flesh (forbearance) and showed kindness to those with physical and spiritual needs (kindness, goodness, and gentleness). Even at the height of his despair, he looked to the Heavenly Father and cried “...yet not my will, but yours be done” (faithfulness and self-control).
The fruits of the Spirit do not result as rewards from doing good deeds or being disciplined and it does not arise from our own effort. To win the war against flesh and produce the fruits of the Spirit, we must walk with the Holy Spirit. Jesus says in John 15, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.”
To “keep in step with the Spirit” is in the present tense in Verse 25, indicating that this walk is a continuous action from the moment we commit ourselves to Christ. In order to produce the fruits of the spirit, we must choose to struggle with our sinful nature every day. We must actively decide to walk with the Spirit and surrender ourselves to be led by the Spirit. As Luke 9:23 states, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus daily. Our faith allows the Spirit to cultivate fruits that let us live the victorious life ensured by Christ’s death and resurrection. Thus, let us seek to abide in the Spirit by drawing closer to God’s presence through prayer and reading of His Word.
Prayer: Dear Lord, let us be strengthened by your power to lead a life of discernment and courage and shed off the chains of earthly passions. Amen.
Thought for the Day: “A true Christian is known not only for his inner peace but his inner warfare.” - JC Ryle
Epiphany Mar Thoma Church, New York