When I began writing about joy at the beginning of June, my plan was to touch on each of the fruits given by the spirit. I wanted to share the excitement of “finding” these fruits and hoping we could journey together and find answers in the scriptures. The amazing part about God is that when we ask Him for answers, He will give them to us and they are rarely what we expect. So today I am writing to tell you that I misunderstood and I would love to share with you how God showed me how I missed the grace in His gift. I thought that if I studied each gift of the spirit, that I would be ready to use them when life got hard. But the fruit of the spirit is an outward showing of what the heart already believes.
When I originally thought about the fruits of the spirit, found in Galatians 5, I thought of each fruit as a tool to use when I needed them. But the more I studied each fruit, the more I saw that it boiled down to one thing, knowing God deep enough to trust Him above everything else. I was mistaking the gifts of the Spirit, for seeking the Spirit Himself. God wants us to get to know Him. When we seek Him, He will not hide Himself from us. But we are not perfect and sometimes we get it wrong. But when we do get it wrong, like I did, we have to decide how we react. We can get discouraged and give up, pretend we aren’t wrong and refuse change, or learn from our misunderstanding and make corrections to our thinking. At first, all I wanted to do was pretend I wasn’t wrong and continue with what I had planned for writing. But I want to abide in Christ, even if it means admitting I am wrong.
Reading Galatians 5 the main message is remembering who God is, over who the world is going to say He is. Paul wants to encourage his fellow Christians, that if they remember that they are set free through Jesus and live a life through the direction of the spirit, their lives will produce outward fruit of “Love, joy, peace, patients, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23a NLT) This is very important distinction. One that I missed the first few times through. We do not strive to find the fruits of the spirit, but we should strive to get to know God, and through the knowledge of Him, we will see these fruits in our lives.
One of the aspects of Christianity that I really struggle with, is the discernment between letting God handle it, while also making choices that move me forward. As I read Galatians 5, I think this problem gains a little clarity. As a Christian we know that there is nothing good in the world without Him, which means we cannot do good without Him. That is hard for me, because I want to be good in my own right. But Galatians 5 is very clear that there is a distinct difference between the flesh and God. Which means we need God in us, the Spirit, to help us fight the flesh. “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” (Galatians 5:17 NLT)
It is a hard thing to admit that there is no good in me. I truly believe that is why I want to help God so much. I don’t want to admit that I am nothing without Him, because that means that I am powerless. But the slow realization that I am learning is that by giving up the power I think I have, I am trading it in for the power that the creator of the universe does have and chooses to give me through the Spirit. I just want that to sink in for a minute. The same God who created the universe, loves us enough to want a relationship with us. So much so, that He came to earth to die for us, thus creating a way for us to be with Him again. It is my sin, my flesh that wants to do evil and broke the relationship to begin with. Yet, Christ paid it all so that the Spirit could live in me. That means while I’m separated from Christ here, the Spirit allows me to still have a relationship with Him.
So now that I see where I was wrong, what next? First, I want to say that I am sorry if I misguided anyone. I sincerely ask for your forgiveness. Second, I believe there is more to dig into, when it comes to the power of the Spirit and I intend to explore that. Third, I encourage you to read Galatians 5 for yourself, it is a chapter full of encouragement and direction. It has quickly become one of my favorite chapters.
My friend, enjoy the freedom we have in Christ and let the Spirit guide your heart to what is good. We will never be good enough on our own. Find encouragement in that, because God doesn’t expect us to do it alone. He has given us a helper and it is wise to listen and let the Spirit guide us.