Before I sat down and really went through and read the entire book of Galatians for the first time, I had thought of it as the “fruit of the spirit” book (that famous passage beginning in Gal 5:22.), I think probably most kids that did Sunday school growing up have done a coloring page with apples, grapes, strawberries…
If you’ve been in VBS or grew up in the church you’ll hear it: the fruits of the spirit are….
Actually, this passage has been on my heart for a few months now, and it was a little embarrassing because I couldn’t name all the “fruits”.
I discipled a young gal and went through a Christian book over the summer… she was old enough to start helping at VBS at church and working on the hand motions to songs she was learning and going through some songs with me and somehow we ended up on one with fruits of the spirit:
I ask, “What are the fruits of the Spirit again? Any hand motions to remember those?”
I answer my own question— naturally, the first 3 come along and those are freebies:
“Yeah they are ‘Love, joy, peace, patience kindness, long-suffering, long-suffering, self-control…’ “ starting out strong, I didn’t realize I had forgotten the rest of the verse.
my young friends’ eyes’ widened and an eyebrow was raised: “Wait did you just say long-suffering twice? ”
sheepishly I responded, “Ummm…maybe… Yes… I figured if I mixed it in there you wouldn’t notice?”
Note: it doesn’t work that way.
Simply stated, Galatians is a letter in which the author, Paul, is passionately pleading with some who have lost their way by making what they do—making their work and effort— more important than what Christ has already done.
Finally, I got around to studying the book of Galatians (the non-coloring book way) using shereadstruth.com (shout out to Olivia & my roomies from GCU #foreva504roomies for getting me into this great resource to study God’s Word)— and its been a couple weeks since I’ve wrapped it up but this study has really changed me.
I’ve always heard growing up in the church that we don’t get to Heaven by our works, but by Christ sacrifice.
And when I heard it once, you think “duh, of course, we couldn’t earn it.”
But this time was different: this reading of Galatians found me in a place of change, in shifting seasons, career and life changes— I felt like I was standing on shaky ground, these things and people and goals that seemed so permanent suddenly were gone.
And this lie so easily crept in: I need to keep trying, I need to keep doing my best so God will love me more. I start to believe — God will love me more if I do this [insert church activity, insert good deed, insert “right thing to do”] or God will love me less if [things don’t work out the way I planned, I fail, things fall through, insert disappointment here: __________________ ].
As a recovering perfectionist, a thought
crossed my mind— no, it consumed my mind: “Will you love me even if… will they like me even if…?”
It was the way I lived before Christ, before His love. I was slipping into a works-based gospel.
Because the truth is, God’s love doesn’t change regardless of what we do. He loved us at our worst and He knows us at our best. The burden of being good enough, Jesus abolished when He died on the cross for our sins. Because the gospel truth is, without Jesus’ sacrifice, we really aren’t good enough. That’s why there is the law Paul talks about, that’s why there is this natural heavy burden on our shoulders, because without Jesus’ sacrifice we are not enough.
God’s love for us is more than enough and is unchanging— but like me—The Galatian church was slipping into a works-based gospel. And they were stumbling others into it as well. Paul was
really upset angry about this.
He pleads with the Galatian church:
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?… “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”
-Galatians 3:1,3 NKJV
Paul is saying:
“Why are you going back to your old ways? Why are you trying to carry your burden on your shoulders?”
Now, why do I so easily pick up the burden of trying so hard on my shoulders?
I am reminded of Jesus words: My yoke is easy and my burden is light… Matt. 11:30
When we live in the truth of Jesus sacrifice, we trade the weight of having to carry the burden of the law, for the completed work of Christ.
No more trying to be good enough
No more trying to measure up.
Instead, we are..
Free to do good works in our freedom. (ch. 5, v1)
Free to abound in the fruit of the spirit when we put away the burden of the law and take up the righteousness of Christ instead.
So now, I’m going back and chewing on those verses I needed to work on earlier, and now, knowing the context: to abound in the Spirit, to have joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… only happens when I live in the freedom of Christ.
And regardless of whether I got all the “fruits” of the Spirit down just yet … I’m still loved the same.
…Well, maybe I needed long-suffering in a double portion without knowing it? X