Galatians 5:16-26: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar.“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.”
Now that we’ve covered the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit, it’s time to analyze how they balance each other out. It’s the most fascinating element of this portion of literature- though not in order, we can apply each part of the fruit of spirit to “cancel out” the works of the flesh. At the risk of creating a complicated web, I subdivided and broke down how each element, or group of elements, works with one another.
- Hatreds, Strife, Selfish ambitions -> LoveLove is the ultimate equalizer. The ultimate catalyst. True heart change comes with true love. When our human nature consumes our heart, and when we find ourselves led to hatred, strife and selfishness, it’s up to us as Christians to take a step back (or in some cases, motivate others to step back) and approach the situation with an angle of true love. This sounds vague, but next time you’re angry with someone, ask yourself: “Am I showing them love like Jesus?”
- Jealousy -> PeaceGod tells us through his words that he will meet our every need. It’s up to us to discipline ourselves and accept the peace he offers us through Christ Jesus. When we’re trained on the peace that the resurrection offers, we notice the lust, desire, and jealousy for things, or things that others have, disappears.
- Outbursts of Anger -> JoyJesus was great at turning the other cheek. We are not. It takes practice, but if we’re in tune with the spirit and drawing close to God through his word, we should be motivated to control our anger and approach stressful situations with a lens of joy. This is something that takes time to learn, but we definitely need to give it time and effort to improve our management of anger.
- Envy -> PatienceTying back into jealousy, James 4:2 warns against desiring what others have. Attempting to approach missed opportunities and unanswered prayers with the acknowledgement of God’s superior will in mind is something extremely difficult to do, but it’s a life-changing perspective if we can achieve it. Instead of forcing the timing of something you want in this life, evaluate it from all perspectives, and realize that God’s timing ultimately prevails.
- Moral impurity -> Kindness, GoodnessWe can live a morally superior life by making an active effort to be kind and good by making a positive impact on the lives of others. We should be charged by the example to see the good in other people, and ask ourselves in tough spots: “What would Jesus do?”
- Sexual Immorality, promiscuity, sorcery -> Faith
- We must fight these things by remaining close to God in active and consistent prayer time and actively seeking to read and apply his word. Instead of involving ourselves in the ways of the world, we must actively strive to be better. We should strive to be loyal in our relationships, and value the institution of marriage, while paying close attention to the Bible’s commands regarding sexual sin.
- Dissensions, Factions -> GentlenessWe should be gentle and inclusive to all people on this Earth, just like Jesus was. Even in this era of acceptance of all ways of live, Jesus wouldn’t further the rift between us. That means opening our arms and striving to make a Christ-like impact on the lives of others who disagree with our decision to follow Christ and the life that comes with it.
- Drunkenness, Carousing -> Self-ControlWe must practice self-control daily in our life. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the great, wholesome things of this life, like the book of Eccelesiastes identifies, such as friendship, a good meal, or a beautiful sunset, but never let the desire for earthly pursuits overrun our desire for Jesus.
Each one of these is an everyday pursuit that is difficult to grasp and pursue. I am terrible at it. We are all terrible at it; we fail each day. However, realizing the significance and importance of this chapter will help us strive closer to Jesus daily.
Last week, I published the first article in a series about one of the most consequential portions of the New Testament- Galatians 5:16-26. The initial post covered Galatians 5:16-21- the works of the flesh– that draw us away from the spirit.
This week, we’ll dive into something a little more uplifting: the fruit of the Spirit. It’s interesting to not the singularity of the word “fruit,” even though nine different adjectives make up the section.
Like the last post, I’ll define each word, and provide commentary on each one and its impact on our relationship with Jesus. Next week, I’ll compare each word side-by-side, and how pursuit of the fruit of the Spirit counteracts the works of the flesh.
Verses 22-23 (HCSB) say: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.”
- What is Love? A question asked by so many, to the point that it’s nearly a joke in our society. Love, as defined by Google, is defined as an intense feeling of deep affection. In this context, applied to feelings towards other people.
- New testament scripture puts an incredible emphasis on love in this life- in John 13:34, Jesus commands us to love one another. In Galatians 5:14, Jesus summarizes the whole law in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus lived this to the extreme. He engaged in the supreme act of love. It’s no wonder why this is listed as the first part of the fruit of the spirit- a life with Jesus, encapsulated through scripture and the life he lived- is defined by love.
- Joy is a true feeling of happiness rooted inside ourselves, unstimulated by anything exterior. When one truly knows Jesus, and relies on him for their peace, often times this comes very easily.
- Joy is incredibly important in pursuing a Christian life. A relationship with Jesus should make us happy! Christ died for us so that we could live- what a tremendous victory. How can we expect to bring anyone to Christ if we walk through this life sad and unsatisfied?
- Patience is perhaps the most difficult pursuit for many on this list. It directly ties back into peace- it’s an increased reliance on God- but especially trusting his timing.
- God tells us in his word that he not only seeks out good will for those who love him, but also if we uphold his commandments and love him only, that we can expect a long, happy life. In a long life, sometimes it’s tough to trust his timing. We want control over when things happen in our lives, but if we wait on his timing, often times it proves supreme and meets us right when and where we need it.
- Kindness, 6. Goodness
- Kindness and Goodness both tie directly back into love, but is more directed toward personal service. Kindness is a true willingness to serve others without expecting anything in return.
- In John 13, Jesus shows true kindness to his disciples by washing their feet, something degrading to other church or societal leader of the time period. As his followers, we ought to heed this example. True kindness shatters expectations, and parallel’s Jesus’ love in this life. It’s how we distinguish ourselves as Christ-followers in this self-serving world. Furthermore, our intentions must be true and good- we must serve with good hearts and desire for Jesus.
- Goodness (see above)
- Faith is belief and trust of God’s plan through Jesus, even though often times we fail, or simply cannot, understand it.
- This is perhaps the most significant deterrent to a relationship with Christ in our world today. We live in an instant gratification, “prove-it” society. Because we can’t see God nor Jesus in the flesh, many refuse to believe. But upon pursuit, one will find that this is the most rewarding aspect. We cannot base our belief on the sight of Jesus, but the work of his kingdom around us. A relationship with Christ is not an easy pursuit; if it were, it wouldn’t require faith.
- Gentleness is an elevated understanding and consideration of the feelings of other people, and ties right back into patience.
- 1 Peter 3:4 tells us that a quiet and gentle spirit is “precious” to God. We must go about leading people extremely delicately, Just like Jesus and his disciples did throughout the old testament. If we pursue this recklessly, like so often happens, people misunderstand who Jesus is. As Christ followers, we represent Jesus to those who don’t know him, and when we approach conversion with anger, self-righteousness, and false prophecy, we turn many off to Christ.
- Self-control is the ability to manage one’s emotions under duress, especially against societal alignment or human desire.
- This is so important in a relationship with Jesus. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a difficult pursuit, but being in control of our thoughts and emotions helps us to align ourselves with Jesus’ love for us and God’s plan for our lives. Being better than the norm and different than most is how we elevate ourselves and align with the example of Christ.
It’s interesting to note that the author notes that, then and now, there is no law against these things. We can pursue each element no matter where we are in life. If we understand and pursue these, we can draw closer to Christ daily.