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.
On Wednesday I had a great day out in Paris with my friend Clive. We caught an early Eurostar and on arrival in Paris we headed straight for the Eiffel Tower. From there we walked through the Rive Gauche, crossing the Seine at Notre Dame, then through the Rive Droite to the Arc de Triomphe. We finished our day with a lovely meal in Montmartre. All in all a great day. Until we got on the train. We arrived in Ebbsfleet and sat there for about three hours whilst the police tried to find some children playing in the tunnels. By this point I was tired, fed up and very, very annoyed. I knew that I would miss the last train home and so was really not very happy. The thoughts running through my head were not thoughts of joy and happiness, but of exasperation and murder.
Today’s verses are well known. We’ve seen in Galatians 5 how Paul understands the ways of the flesh (sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery etc) lead to disinheritance from the kingdom of God. Anyone who choses to live in this way has turned their back on God and has sealed their fate. Here, in verses 22 and 23 Paul talks about the opposite way of living – living in a way that honours God. If we have renounced evil and turned our back on our sinful ways we will demonstrate love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. What is important to note, though, is that these traits are “the fruit of the Spirit.” If we have the Holy Spirit within us, if we follow Christ, our lives will demonstrate these elements. If we allow the Holy Spirit to take root in our lives we will naturally bear this fruit. It is the Holy Spirit that causes us to act in this way.
Of course, there will be times when we struggle to see this fruit in our lives. Certainly when I was stuck at Ebbsfleet I would not have recognised much goodness or forbearance in my attitude, let alone any kindness or joy. This is the reality of living in a sinful world. We can struggle to accommodate the Spirit in our lives, we can find ourselves pushing it out as we revert to our old, sinful ways. We need to continually feed the Spirit, to nurture it, and to allow it to occupy our hearts, our minds and our bodies. We need to constantly try to walk with the Spirit so that we don’t gratify the desires of the flesh (as we saw in Galatians 5:16-17). We need to ask God to take away our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh, and allow God to put his Spirit into us (as we saw in Ezekiel 36:26-27).
If we allow God’s Spirit the opportunity to take root in our hearts then our lives will be transformed. We will be able to live as free citizens of God’s kingdom and walk by his Spirit so that our lives will demonstrate the Spirit’s fruit. Let’s pray today that God would transform our lives, help us to put aside earthly thoughts and actions, and ask him to equip us to bear his spiritual fruit.