Monday, 26 September 2011
Galatians 5:19-26: Freedom and Growth
“My how you’ve grown!”
Those were usually the first words my children heard whenever their grandparents visited. You see, we lived across the country from both sets of parents during most of our married lives. Their absence gave them a long term perspective. They had the opportunity to see growth in our kids that we missed because we were too close to them. Six months had produced not just changes in height, but improvement on musical instruments, development in sports’ skills, progress in academics.
So even though the words were predictable, they were welcomed. They spurred the kids on in their various endeavors. They provided much needed encouragement for continued effort.
You look just like…There are lots of ways we grow, but one of the most meaningful is to start to resemble someone we love. We have a picture of David at age two standing with his back to the camera, chubby legs standing wide, hands clasped behind his back. Right next to him was his dad, in the exact same pose. David was already looking up to him.
Unfortunately, during his junior high years David was a carbon copy of me, down to the short hair and wire rimmed glasses. Strangers would feel compelled to stop us on the street and comment on his resemblance to his mother. He’s relieved that public opinion now agrees that he looks just like his dad.
His portrait. With nine swift brushstrokes, Paul paints a portrait of Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit is quite simply the perfect, balanced, integrated, full color character of our Savior. I wonder if Paul didn’t start to say, “The fruit (singular) of the Spirit is love, period, and then couldn’t stop himself from pouring out a more complete description of the One who is love incarnate.
Picture him. Throwing his head back in joy when his disciples return from their first taste of proclaiming the kingdom. Speaking peace to the wind and the waves and to his troubled friends. Patiently prodding them to steps of faith before the hungry crowd, “You give them something to eat.” Seeing the grieving widow and kindly comforting her before handing her back her son. Going about doing good. Faithfully accomplishing his Father’s work. Gently correcting Martha. Exercising self-control when he cleansed the temple. Loving his own who were in the world, all the way to the end.
This is the template the Holy Spirit is eying as he sculpts our lives. And he won’t stop until the image is complete.
The works of the flesh aren’t the only thing evident. Paul says in Galatians 5:19 that “the works of the flesh are evident.” But the Spirit’s fruit is also visible. We have the opportunity to see it and point it out for each other. In fact this is one of the purposes of our regular time together in small groups. We have an outsider’s perspective on each other that can help us see the hand of God in each others lives more clearly than we can see it for ourselves. We have the fun of pointing and exclaiming, “There he is! God is at work in you!”
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Let’s look for fruit in each other. And celebrate the ways we’re beginning to look like Him.