As we kick off this series talking about the fruit of the Spirit, it seems right that we start at the very beginning. If you’ve ever ventured into a Christian bookstore you’ve heard and seen these verses – Galatians 5:22-23 – on everything from coffee cups to the candies at the checkout. Your godly grandma may even have it etched on the Thanksgiving turkey platter, right next to the “man does not eat by bread alone” bread plate. But it’s more than a catchy phrase. It’s a picture of what our lives can truly look like.
Paul is the author of Galatians, as well as a huge chunk of the New Testament. He uses the metaphors of fields, gardens, and fruit often to show how God works in our lives. He continually shows us that if time and love are spent, positive results can be expected.
Take a moment and read these verses. What is the “fruit” or “harvest” mentioned?
These verses all talk about the fruit of Christian living, but I I’m a person who needs some details. I’m happy to do what needs to be done, but I need a little guidance on what to do and what results I should be expecting. Galatians 5:22 & 23 just lays it out there. When you “walk by the Spirit” you can expect fruit in your life. It all starts with love.
There are several words in the New Testament translated as “love” in English. Grab your concordance or look it up online. (hint: it’s Strong’s number 26)
What does “agape” mean?
Paul uses this word often – 75 times! – to refer to both how God loves us and how we love each other.
God’s saving love for us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is central to the whole thing. If we don’t understand and accept Christ’s love for us, we can’t love others.
Take note of these verses. How does God show His love for us?
This love is an incredible thing! We did nothing to deserve it. We don’t have to do anything to keep it. God loves YOU with an everlasting, unfailing love. Isn’t it beautiful?
Because His Holy Spirit resides in us as believers, we can be sure He guides us with that same love. Now, can we love others perfectly as God loves us? Umm…no. We’re not God and never will be. But that doesn’t mean we can’t reflect His love in our own lives.
Read Galatians 2:20,21. What happens when we become believers and accept Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross? (If it helps, replace “I” with your name so you can really feel how this is true for you, too, and not just Paul.)
We don’t have to do this alone, friends! Goodness, there is so much freedom in that!
Verse 22 starts with the word “but” so it’s important to look and back and see what Paul is referring too. This section really starts in 5:16 and goes through the end of the chapter. The things of our flesh – our old selves before Jesus saved us from them – are the complete opposite of the things of the Spirit. God’s ways are not our ways, and you don’t have to look very far to see it’s true. Without God it’s almost impossible to fight against the tendencies of jealousy, anger, and more. We are born selfish and it takes God Himself to change that in us.
As we draw closer to God, as we remember that it is Christ who lives in us, and as we shut the door of our hearts against the works of the flesh, this love will grow! I love verse 25 – “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Listen to how the Message puts it:
“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. “
So today, as we are working out the implications in our lives, let’s focus on what love for God and others truly looks like. Start by asking God to give you His love for others so you can see people the way He does. You may see a driver who is slowing down your day or a nuisance you have no choice but to deal with. But God sees someone He sent His son to die for. Ask for fresh sight, especially for those you’re with every day like your family and co-workers.
Then, as the day goes on and you hit that wall where the old you has a few things she’d like to say, remember to pause. Quick words are normally much more harmful than the ones thought through. Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”. Let’s be people who strive for life!
And finally, listen. God may have more ways for you to show His love to others. Be open. Listen to that still, small voice inside you. There are so many ways God uses us to be His hands and feet to the world. The nagging thought to take food to the homeless, buy a young mama’s groceries, or take flowers to your neighbor very well could be the voice of God himself, nudging you to show love today.