by Ruth Olsen
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If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).
Last Sunday, we considered branches in the vine bearing fruit. In these verses today, Paul spells out what this fruit looks like. There’s a diversity of characteristics – the characteristics of Jesus – to match any occasion. We might joke about asking for patience and wanting it now. We might be reluctant about asking the Lord to enable us to grow in patience or self-control, but those times will surely come anyway. If we recognise those testing times as opportunities to rely on the Spirit’s power and help, the outcome might just be a sweeter attitude in dealing with the situation, resulting in sweeter fruit.
The Holy Spirit brings his fruit with him when he is given to us, and each time we practise love, joy, peace and self-control, the fruit grows in us, available to nurture others as we draw life from the Spirit of Jesus at work in us. It’s no ‘fly by night’ deal but a process over time, practice, learning, giving, and replenishing from God each day.
Paul urges his readers, ‘Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature’ (Galatians 5:16–21). Do you recognise that inner battleground? None of us is a passive observer in this process but a participant! We choose which direction we will follow. Some translations use ‘if we live by the Spirit’, and some use a more definite ‘since’, but let us be intentional in following the Spirit’s leading. The pull of sinful nature grows when we give way to it. But by our prayerful act of submitting to God in the authority that Jesus has given us, we are resisting the devil and our old sinful nature (James 4:7). The Spirit is the power of God at work in us! He will patiently teach us how to keep in step with him so that we may honour Jesus.
Spirit of God, make us more like Jesus in all that we are and do. Amen.