17 A person’s selfish desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires. They are opposed to each other, so you shouldn’t do whatever you want to do. 18 But if you are being led by the Spirit, you aren’t under the Law. 19 The actions that are produced by selfish motives are obvious, since they include sexual immorality, moral corruption, doing whatever feels good, 20 idolatry, drug use and casting spells, hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, 21 jealousy, drunkenness, partying, and other things like that. I warn you as I have already warned you, that those who do these kinds of things won’t inherit God’s kingdom.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this.
This passage listed key qualities God offers to grow in all who make Jesus Lord of their lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self- control. Who wouldn’t want these qualities in a spouse, a date or a close friend? Partnering with God to grow these qualities in our lives will build stronger relationships that can last through good times and bad.
Holy Spirit, plant your fruit in my heart, and teach me how to be good soil in which that fruit can flourish. Let me be a person who gifts others with love, joy and peace. Amen.
* “When Paul uses the word ‘flesh’…he does not intend us simply to think of the ‘physical’ world ….‘flesh’ refers to people or things who share the corruptibility and mortality of the world…the rebellion of the world.” – Wright, N.T., Paul for Everyone, Romans Part One: Chapters 1-8 (pp. 140-141). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
** See Adam Hamilton, The Walk: Five Essential Practices Of The Christian Life. Abingdon Press, 2019.
Growing up the only pets we had in our house were fish. Mom would not allow dogs or cats inside the house--which worked out for me because I am in fact severely allergic to most mammals. So it came as a great surprise to me and others when in 2018 I brought home a little Yorkie, KiKi Okoye Tennie. I never pictured myself with a hypo-allergenic, four-legged companion, but here we are! God knew I would need her though, between the loss of my mom in 2016 and the long-term effects of isolation and quarantine as a single woman living through a pandemic.
KiKi and I have a great rhythm and hardly ever have any hiccups—except when we go for walks with the leash. See, there's nothing like a leash to showcase that there are two distinct creatures with two very different mindsets and priorities on either side of that leash.
I want to walk one direction—KiKi wants to walk the opposite.
I want to walk at a nice leisurely pace—KiKi wants to sprint.
I want to casually admire the environment—KiKi wants to hunt squirrels.
I want to say “hi,” and move peacefully past the other person and their dog—KiKi wants to bark her head off at them.
The leash highlights the conflict between what I want to do…and what KiKi wants to do.
Galatians 5:17 explains that our human desires are in constant conflict with the Holy Spirit's desires for us. The direction that God wants us to walk is usually the complete opposite direction in which we want to walk. But in verses 22 and 23, God provides us a string of words and characteristics that can act as a leash that nudges us and--let's be honest--often must pull us in the right direction.
--A nudge toward love.
--A turn toward joy.
--A prod toward peace.
--A push toward patience.
--A veer toward kindness.
--A pull toward goodness.
--A spin toward faithfulness.
--A tug toward gentleness.
--A pivot toward self-control.
I pray that we would all mind the Holy Spirit as we go about our walks today.
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