Galatians 5 v 22 - 26

The opposite way to the Way of the flesh as described by Paul in the previous verses is the Way of The Spirit. How will we know which path we are proceeding down? By the fruit we grow. Here, then, is the fruit of the Spirit: 1. Love, the foundation stone for living rightly. Note that the cold-legalism of the law-abiding Pharisee is the very antithesis of what God desires! This is agape love, defined as unconquerable benevolence, characterised by the cry of Jesus on the cross, ''Father, forgive them, because they don't know what they are doing!'' 2. Joy which has its foundation in God. Not fluctuating, but unceasing, because its foundation is undisturbed by anything external. Question: Do you see joy as being at the root of the Christian faith? 3. Peace, Shalom. This means not just freedom from trouble, but everything that makes for the highest good. An all-pervading recognition that our times are in God's hands. 4. Patience of the persevering kind. God is patient with us, but still moves within us to challenge, to encourage, to warn. We are called to live patient, persevering lives. 5. Kindness and goodness. Jesus described his yoke in Matthew 11 v 29 as 'kind'. These words are interlinked, because there is a goodness which removes itself from other people. This goodness is deeply involved with others. 6. Faithfulness. Reliability of the believing Christian is an important characteristic for God. Remember Jesus' parable of the two sons who were asked by their father to work in his vineyard? The first one said he would and didn't turn up; the second refused, but later went and worked there. There are plenty of Christians who talk the talk of what they will do for God, but don't ever walk the walk! 7. Gentleness. The Greek word Paul uses here means being submissive to the will of God; being willing to learn-always growing and listening to God; being considerate in our dealings with others. 8. Self-control. This is used elsewhere to describe the athlete's mastery of their body and of the Christian's mastery of sex. The person who masters themselves is then free to be a servant of all. There is a sense that, when we turn to Jesus and become His child, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us and He begins to organically produce this fruit within us. There are, however, things we do or attitudes we take which can harm or help this process. Co-operate with God within, do not deny what He wants to do within you!

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