But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Our church recently did a sermon series on Galatians and we were encouraged to read Galatians for You by Timothy Keller as a resource and to dig deeper. It was a GREAT book…but it was also one of those books that caused me quite a bit of angst and discontent. Why? Because it revealed new areas of where I needed to be growing, it revealed things in myself I didn’t like.
Now let’s pause a minute. If you are reading this blog and plan to follow me through these 31 days (or beyond) you must realize I have this innate feeling of never being good enough. I don’t know where I picked up the bad habit but I did and that’s that. So in my prayers, I must be careful to discern if this or that is from God or if this or that is from my neurosis. So let’s be clear…this book, at this time, was clearly from God and frankly I’ve got some work cut out for me.
While the Galatians for You covered the whole chapter, for the purposes of the next 31 days I will be focusing on the Fruit of the Spirit. Why? Because it was revealed to me how OFF my understanding has been and how very much I need to grow…ha ha…grow fruit.
So very quickly, let me set the foundation for the next 31 days…the initiating concepts from Keller’s Galatians for you:
Growth is gradual – you will only see progress over a period of time and looking back. I know this is very true for me…in fact just last week, I blogged on how my reaction to my fickle house buyer was much different than it would have been just last year. She ended up bailing by the way and the house is back on the market. Got it…so far so good.
Inevitable – if you have the Holy Spirit – you WILL grow. I don’t know about you but this gives me great relief and hope! This is great…
Internal roots – it’s not about traits or characteristics – it’s much deeper. Okay…this is where I started to perk up in my study..trying to understand. Think about an apple tree…the apples don’t make the tree alive but rather they are a sign that the tree is not only alive but healthy and living out it’s purpose. Life produces the fruit. Okay…still trying to wrap my mind around the traits and characteristics but really like the apple tree analogy. Let’s move along…
Symmetrical – REAL fruit of the spirit always grow together (notice it is FRUIT, singular). Do you ever have a moment before a moment you know something is about to shift for you? Keller goes on to say “Don’t confuse natural temperament with fruit” Oy. Natural temperament is brain chemistry, early training or at times sheer willpower. I’ve been know to say things like…I’m great with peace or joy but that gentleness will get me every time. NO…Keller goes on to say. What we think is one part of the fruit is really just a natural defense or coping method.
For example, let’s look at peace…
Irene = peace, meaning a confidence and rest in the wisdom and control of God, rather than in your own. It replaces anxiety and worry. The fake version of peace is indifference, apathy, not caring about something.
Do you know how many times I’ve forced myself to stop caring about something because it was too hard to trust God? The motivation was not confidence and rest in God but rather to make myself feel better.
or what about self-control…
Egkrateia = self-control, the ability to pursue the important over the urgent, rather than to be always impulsive or uncontrolled. The slightly surprising counterfeit is a willpower which is based on pride, the need to feel in control.
Smack between the eyes.
When we stop looking at our gifts as a sign that we are Christlike, and stop looking at our natural strengths as a sign we are Christlike, but challenge ourselves to look at the nature, unity and definitions of the Spirit, we have a much deeper sense of how we lack these things. Keller, Timothy (2013-02-10). Galatians For You (God’s Word For You) (p. 143).
See what I mean…lots of nuanced work to do. I could go on but really we have 31 days to journey together.
This is my first #write31days journey and I do not have a solid plan of where this is going.
In addition to Keller, I’ve also decided to study Beth Moore’s Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit as well as Thomas Trask’s Fruit of the Spirit: Becoming the Person God Wants You To Be. I’m not so concerned with all the reading and studying…the writing portion is intimidating…but mostly I’m scared but excited to see the work ahead of me. While refining and growing is often painful…when you get to the other side, it’s SO awesome. So yeah…let’s do this and thank you for sharing the journey.