Devotion for the Week...
Thank you all for hanging out with me these past couple of months as we've considered the fruit of the Spirit. I have one more thought on the subject today and then we'll move on to something else (I promise!). In case you need a refresher, here are the links to all the previous posts in the series - the introduction, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
And, for the last time, our verse for this series is Galatians 5:22, 23, "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."
A few years ago Aiden was fascinated by stupid laws and his favourite by far was from Alberta. The law stated that when a prisoner was released from prison, he had to be given a gun, bullets and a horse!! Presumably this was to help said prisoner get out of town and therefore out of the hair of the local authorities, but doesn't it sound rather self-defeating for the authorities to arm someone they already know is a criminal?
Though some laws may be questionable, civilizations generally make laws with the intention to protect their citizens and maintain public order. Laws are written to declare which actions are so unacceptable that they will be punished by the authorities. From the major crimes (murder) to the minor ones (littering) societies outlaw all the things that they consider to be wrong. That's pretty basic, right?
And then there are God's laws. God gave His law to Moses to teach the Isrealites how to live properly, how to avoid sin and to serve Him with their whole hearts. God's law is meant to keep people safe from sin.
I find it interesting that the Bible tells us that there are no laws against any of the fruit of the Spirit. There is no law against the kind of all-encompassing love the Spirit can cause us to show. There is no law against patience in the face of trouble or against self-control when tempted to do wrong. There are no laws against these things because goodness is no threat to
public order. Joy is no threat to a city's safety, and patience, well,
that could do wonders if displayed a little more often.
I think Paul pointed out that there are no laws against these things as a point of comparison. In Galatians 5, in the paragraph before we see the fruit of the Spirit, Paul writes a list of "the acts of the flesh" (v. 19), which are "sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like" (vv. 19-21), many of which are against the law. Though they may not all be against society's laws, they are all outside of God's will for us and therefore against His law. All of these actions stem from a person's desire to live entirely for themselves, without regard for God or other people.
In contrast to those self-serving actions, there are no laws against displaying the fruit of the Spirit. In fact, it is just the opposite. There is reason to encourage people to grow in their ability to show every one of these traits. Can you imagine the shift that would take place in our world if everyone lived with the fruit of the Spirit as their standard? If people actually lived out love, joy, peace and the others? All of them at once, not just specializing in one or two, but growing in all 9 (which are actually 9 sides of one fruit, remember). Wouldn't that be amazing?
Our world desperately needs more of the fruit of the Spirit. The first step towards that goal would be for each of us to become more aware of the Spirit in our own lives and to seek to listen better to the warnings and reminders He gives us.
Maybe, though, there is another step we could be taking. Maybe we should also be seeking opportunities to encourage others when they display the traits we've been studying. After all, the more the fruit of the Spirit grows in the world, the better the world will be.