“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
This year The Day of Pentecost (the day when the Holy Spirit first descended on the followers of Jesus, as recorded in Acts 2) falls on May 15th (on which Sunday we will celebrate the Affirmation of Baptism/Confirmation of Courtney Bauer, Brett Breidor, Joshua Famous, Sydney Jordan, and Courtney Stenn), I thought it might be good to share these words from St. Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia.
He wrote these words to them as a way to help set them back on the true path of faith, a path Paul felt they had strayed mightily from after he left them. The Galatians appear to have been fighting amongst themselves about how to live as Christians, and the church was coming apart at the seams for want of consensus and unity within the faith.
Paul is urging them to remember the Spirit they received in baptism, the very same Spirit we ourselves received on our baptisms. This Spirit leads, not to division and conflict, not to pursuit of selfish gain at the expense of others, but to the things that draw people together, the things that unite folks in a common, mutual expression of love and caring for one another. The Spirit builds up, and it never tears apart.
The fruit of the Spirit includes things like love, for God and for one another, joy, in God and in one another, peace, with God and with one another. The fruit of the Spirit leads us to act with patience and kindness, not impatience and anger. We are to bear with one another, wait with one another, grow with one another. The fruit of the Spirit impels us to acts of generosity, as we realize that all we have comes to us first from God, so that, as a gift from God, all that we have is available to be given away for the sake of one in need. The fruit of the Spirit inspires in us faithfulness, as we put following the ways of God, the example of Jesus Christ above all else in our daily lives, and to gentleness, as we seek to harm no one, but instead to seek the good for everyone. The fruit of the Spirit causes us to exercise self-control, as we think before we speak or act, as we live simply and frugally, and as we become positive role models, positive examples, for all those we encounter, child and adult.
The fruit of the Spirit makes us better people, kinder, gentler, more loving people, who seek the common good, who seek the good for others, who work to bring together those torn apart, who seek to mend what is broken, who seek to come together as one in the power of baptism, in the grace of God, in the love of Jesus, and in the gift of the Spirit.
These fruits are especially important for us to remember, and hang on to, and live out, in these days when so much of our society, so much of our world, so much of our community, so much of our home life, is filled with strife and tension. Ungrace, unlove, unjoy (I’m making words up here), the anti-fruit, seems to be everywhere, and our lives seem filled with so much anger and hatred, abuse and oppression, bigotry and prejudice, violence and war, that all we can do is cry out to the God who sends the Spirit to send that Spirit even more powerfully now.
Send the Spirit of gentleness, the Spirit of love, the Spirit of faith, the Spirit of service, the Spirit of healing and reconciliation into our world, into lives, into the very core of our own beings, and send it now. As we come to the Day of Pentecost, let us commit ourselves to claiming the fruits of the Spirit as our fruits, and let us commit ourselves to living out these blessed fruits every day, in all of our situations, wherever we go, with whomever we meet. See you in church!!