"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law."
Galatians 5: 22-23
By Debbie Humphrey, 2018 Virlina District Moderator
Lists....I will admit that I love a list. A list keeps me grounded, disciplined and helps to remind me of responsibilities and events on the horizon. Grocery lists, Christmas card lists, household to-do lists... I always have a list or two in the works. Whether your lists are on a smartphone, iPad, laptop or just stuck on the front of your refrigerator (old school style), they work to remind us that something needs our attention! We read, process and prioritize, and then work that task into our lives.
Paul felt the church in Galatia needed the same type of reminder list. In his letter to the church , Paul is frustrated and disappointed with the path that the church has taken. He wants to see them get back on track with the work that he started when he last visited. Paul states in chapter 5: 7, "You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?" Like us, when faced with uncertainty and too many choices of our own making, they faltered. The church had become susceptible to agitators and too many outside influences. In Chapter 5 of his letter, Paul warns them against biting and devouring each other and indulging in obvious sinful nature. I like the choice of the word "obvious." In other words, they know it is sinful behavior and not from God. Paul then gives a list of the sinful natures in verses 19 through 21, which includes about every form of the worst part of our human nature, including fits of rage, discord, hatred, sexual impurities, factions and the list goes on. Obviously, this was a Not-To-Do list!!!!
These acts move us away from a relationship with God and keep us from having loving relationships with each other. By contrast, Paul gives us, and the church, a list of practices and attributes that God would have us use in our daily lives. In Chapter 5: 22-23, he names the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. These are from the Spirit and will draw us closer in relationship to God and with each other.
There is no law, Jewish or Gentile, against such practices. God offers a harvest of plenty when we cultivate and follow the fruit of the Spirit. Our witness to the world is evident when we follow this to-do list that Paul shares with the church in Galatia.
This list shows us how to treat each other, show our love for our neighbor and stay in fellowship with God. Love each other. Spread Joy with your daily attitude of thanksgiving. Surround yourself with a presence of Peace. Have Patience with the things of the world which frustrate you. Be Kind to everyone. Show Goodness in your actions. Hold onto a Faithfulness that God is in control and knows our every need. Have a nature of Gentleness when caring for each other. Practice Self Control in your words and actions.
Keep this reminder list on your heart as we continue to walk together in step with the Spirit. God bless each of our churches in the Virlina District as we prepare to gather for District Conference. My prayer is that we will strive to bear good Fruit and increase the Harvest of God's Church. See you at Conference!
In Christ's Service,
Debbie Humphrey, Moderator