They say “the devil is in the details.” But what are the results? This is the question I meditated on since my last blog post.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [Galatians 5:25 NIV*]
I learn from research and writing. Most of the time, I understand what I write. But when the writing is slow, I need to digest the lessons. The Lessons from Darkness was hard to write. The writing felt mired in mud. I had a sense the Holy Spirit wanted me to understand something more. But, I didn’t understand. I wrote in blind faith.
Galatians 5:19-23 was not even in my thoughts when I started the post. I found it on a word search using an online concordance. I knew this was the one. Because I didn’t notice any of the other scriptures listed. There was a moment of doubt when I asked, “But, how?”
I shouldn’t have worried even a bit! Once the scripture was in the post, the words formed. The words came so fast I didn’t digest the meaning. My soul knew the message was there. My brain had not caught up with the Spirit. Placing my faith in God, I published the post.
My confirmation came in the form of a comment. God gave the writer Galatians five in her studies last week too. While reading her comment I knew the Holy Spirit was afoot!
He wants us to look for the fruits of the Spirit so we know what is from God. I’ve heard this message in sermons and homilies most of my life. Here’s the thing, when you grow up as a believer, the popular sermon scriptures become dull. My mental hand waves in the air, I got it, and I let my mind wander, what’s for dinner tonight? I couldn’t blow this lesson off. The Lord had more for me to understand.
I’ll start with an example from something I struggle with in my life. The truth is when I gossip it is not out of love. I might tell myself or the other person; this information is for their good. If I apply the test in Galatians to gossip, I find the results of gossip are: strife, jealousy, disputes, dissensions, factions, and envy. Hmmm… These were not the results I intended. Yet, it is what happens.
I thought I was helping, solving a problem, or commiserating with a friend. That is the lie. The results tell me what spirit is generated by the action. Gossip is rooted in the acts of the flesh.
During prayer this weekend, I noticed the Apostle Paul is talking about the flesh. While the evil one is active in tempting us these are still our actions. The choices we make. These are the sins that draw us. I enjoy having information to pass on to others. This makes gossip attractive to me. This is how I am tempted.
But it goes further. What about my actions? What do they produce? In my example, as much as I tried to justify the gossip, the result was the same. Divisions, factions, and someone got hurt. I have other temptations too! I need the self-control to stop, breathe, pray, and think about my next action or reaction. Is this of the flesh or of the Spirit?
Lately, I’ve been asking the Holy Spirit for guidance. Well, he showed me! Right there in the words of the Apostle Paul. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Does one of the Spirit’s fruits capture your interest? The one that caught my attention was self-control. This is what I want in my life. Can I do it? I suppose. With God I can do anything, right? Can I grow the fruits of the Holy Spirit in my life? Maybe…
Let me tell you, when the Spirit is afoot, the fruit is in play. I can look back over my past decisions. What were the results? Did my actions create love or strife? When I am following the Lord, I see the fruits as gifts appearing in my life. When I make a plan, I make an educated guess about the results. What if I also ask? “Is this from the Spirit or flesh?” This passage addresses all time. We can learn from the past, take action today, and consider the probable results.
I admit it’s not always a simple choice. Sometimes, I want to do what I want to do. God doesn’t stop me from making the choice. Do I choose me or do I choose him? We can put our actions to the test and make better decisions.
May the Holy Spirit be with you,
*New International Version