The house was quiet as I opened my Bible and began to read from Galatians, chapter 5. Words of guidance and wisdom fell upon me. Do not focus on the flesh. Use the fruits of the Spirit. And then the closing sentences: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” (Galatians 5:25). Suddenly, I was stopped. Struck by these words, I read them again. As Christians, we are not called to carry ourselves in a haughty way. We are not called to foster arguments. And we are definitely not called to look at those around us and wish that our lives were more like our neighbors’ and friends’. At a time when parents seem to find themselves frequently drawing battle lines in “Mommy Wars,” and when online anonymous comments offer hate and vitriol, when we spend our money seeking after what we are sure that others have, we may need to glance in a new direction.
There is another way to handle our lives. But can we find that path?
Perhaps the answer is found earlier in that passage. The fruits of the Spirit may be so familiar to us that we skip right over them as we read this passage. But if our focus was on growing those fruit in our lives, perhaps steering clear of common frustrations would be easier.
What would that choice look like today?
All of these gifts are given freely to us, not to be sought but to accept, as presents. These simple fruits are ours already. They bring to us what we need to faithfully live in the way God desires. And as we unwrap each one daily, the things we wish to steer clear of become things we no longer seek. We will find ourselves “in step with the Spirit” in new ways. Being conceited and argumentative and envious will have no room because our life will be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. Our lives will be overflowing with the very things that God desires for us most. And our words, our decisions, our day to day actions, will be impacted in a way that our children will see and emulate.
They will grow up unwrapping these same gifts, following this same path, for many generations to come.
Rev. Joel Vande Werken
Rev. Joel Vande Werken