Some Thoughts About The Fruit of the Spirit
From today's readings:
Galatians 5:1, 13-25For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
In my experience, what many of us generally take away from this passage is the list of things NOT to do. They come first in the reading, and they put us in a defensive posture. Nobody wants to miss out on inheriting the Kingdom, so we focus on the NOTS and on not doing them.
(And perhaps, using that list with which to judge others.)
But what if we passed over that list more lightly and end up focusing on the DO list? How about we zero in on the things we ought to do which are, according to Paul, the fruits of the spirit? How about we put ourselves in an active posture and strive for kindness and generosity and gentleness and all the others on that list?
Wouldn't that be a great place from which to see and live out our lives?