Devotional # 93. 6/26/14. Galatians 5:22-23.
Intro: Galatians has kept the theme of not adding anything to faith in Jesus. Last week we talked about not giving opportunity to our flesh but “but through love serv[ing] one another” (5:13). As promised last week, we are going to spend a little more time on the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) this week. We’ll see how the love that we talked about last week is all encompassing for the “fruit of the Spirit” for this week.
5: 22-23. God gave us the list of “works of the flesh” (5:19-21) as examples of what to stay away from and most importantly what not to do habitually. Now He gives the list of things that the holy Spirit works into every Christian. It is called fruit of the Spirit because it is evidence (like fruit from a tree) of being productive. The best part is that a tree doesn’t try and produce fruit. It does what its Creator intended for it to do. MacDonald notes that there is a contrast between “the works of the flesh, and the fruit of the Spirit” (Source 1, p. 53).
I’m not sure how your Bible puts it grammatically but my Bible has a comma after “love“; it says, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…” It is my opinion (which I learned from a pastor I respect) that it should be more of a colon then a comma. What do I mean? The fruit of the Spirit is love – period. If you have Jesus’ love then the Holy Spirit will work all of loves’ many manifestations. Those manifestations are “joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” This “fruit” permeates all of our life, both in how we react to believers and non-Christians. I won’t say much about these attributes except for “patience” (or “longsuffering”) and “goodness.” The word “patience” can be defined as “patience in afflictions, annoyances and persecutions” and “goodness” is “kindness shown to others” (Source 1, p. 53). This stands out because I know God has been working in me to be loving towards other Christians that annoy me. And I have seen other Christians with the same struggle. I fear when we get to heaven we will look back on our time on earth and be disappointed with the opportunities that we had to grow in love for our other brothers and sisters that we’re spending eternity with. If there is a difference in doctrine or opinion you can’t let that blind you to the great things that God may be wanting you to share with this other believer. (I must note if it is a difference of dogma then you shouldn’t fellowship with them although you should still love them, see below for more on Dogma, Doctrine and Opinion*). Even more than that I have seen time and again where when our heart is softened towards another Christian it is actually we who benefit. We were so annoyed that we missed how wrong we were, or how shallow we had become or how God wanted to teach us through this person. Be open for the Lord to work in amazing ways, since His ways are not our ways and His thoughts aren’t like our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8)!!
* Dogma, Doctrine and Opinion: There are three categories that Christian thought can be put into: dogma, doctrine and opinion. Dogma is the stuff that is absolute truth, that can’t be compromised on. Doctrine is developed within denominations that help to guide. And opinion is interesting but not essential to the faith. An example of Dogma would be that Jesus is the only One who can save us from our sins, and the only way to Heaven. An example of Doctrine would be predestination. And an example of Opinion is that electric guitar worship music is OK.
Conclusion: This week I had planned to quickly talk about the fruit of the Spirit and then get right into chapter 6. But God has an interesting way of directing things. I would like for us to meditate on this section for a while. Many times we have several pages of devotion which can be read alongside the Bible either all in one sitting or over the course of a week. Today’s may be quick but I would challenge you to really meditate on these words, write them on your heart (memorize them) and most importantly seek what the heart of God was when He wrote this to the Galatians 2,000 years ago and what He means for us today. This is one of the Scriptures I have printed out and is sitting next to my computer at work – it reminds me to act this way in one of the most stressful and frustrating places!
Source 1: William MacDonald, The Letter to the Galatians, 2007.