Read: Galatians 5:19-23
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.
I’ve decided to do a WISH Post series on the “Fruit of the Spirit” listed by Paul in Galatians 5. In this passage Paul is drawing a contrast between the “works of the flesh” and the “fruit of the Spirit”. We will live with this passage, reflecting weekly on each fruit, for the next 9 weeks. To be clear, “fruit of the Spirit” are the qualities, traits, and characteristics that the Spirit inspires and produces within us. This “fruit” is evidence of the Spirit’s real work in our life.
Not surprising, the first fruit of the Spirit is “Love”. That’s how it should be. If our faith in Christ is not increasing our capacity to affirm and express love, then we have become mired and stagnant. I don’t mean that judgmentally, but diagnostically – it happens, even to the “saints”. Love is to be the number #1 expression of our faith, because: 1) Love is the very nature of God (1John 4:8), 2) Love is the way of Christ (Mt 22:36-38). As we grow in love, we are children of God growing in the “image and likeness” of our Heavenly Father. I think of Jesus’ teaching that people will know that you are My disciples by your love, (John 13:34-35). The ability to love, anyone and everyone, is intended to be an identifying characteristic of His followers.
This is not a “touchy-feely” platitude, but a real, practical, challenging path. Jesus challenges us 1) to love our enemies, 2) to love the “least of these”, which includes: the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned, outcast, foreigner, stranger – the list is long, because the list includes everyone. If we are incapable of forgiving a transgressor, then we are not following the path of Christ, and we are not growing in the way of Christ, which is love. There is much I could say about this first fruit, it is the basis for all of the other fruit that Paul lists, and that we will reflect on. May you bear much fruit in your faith, and may your harvest be bountiful with love!
Pastor Rob Nystrom