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This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
Imagine a world - or let’s make it more specific - a church, a family, a marriage, a team, a friendship… where the following traits were practiced - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
What might be the most significant change you would see?
This Sunday we started our summer series entitled “Punch!” We are going to be looking at the nine traits listed in Galatians 5:22, 23 over the summer. Paul calls these “the fruit of the Spirit”. In this introduction to the series we looked at two key words in v.16a.
“Spirit” - these nine traits are the result of divine enablement
We looked at the word “Spirit” first because it is only when we understand the necessity of the Spirit that we will be motivated to live the way we should - by the Spirit.
Paul is driving home the point to his opposition that the primary way a person is transformed is not by law-keeping but first and foremost by the power of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Without an encounter with the Holy Spirit, we might exhibit good behaviour at times but fall far short of being transformed to the core of who we are. Just keeping the law will not result in the kind of change God desires in us. The ultimate goal is that Christ is formed in us (4:19). Paul is saying that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about that kind of transformation.
Talk for a moment about the difference between being good vs. being truly transformed. I think one distinction is between behaviour and heart.
There is another reason why Paul focuses in on the Spirit. He realizes that there is tremendous opposition to our makeover. And it is opposition that will only be trumped by the work of the Spirit. Note in v.16 the opposition. Note in v.16 and 17 some key words:
- “Sinful nature” - “The Scriptures are filled with statements of the corruption of many aspects of man’s nature. His intellect (2 Cor 4:4; Rom 1:28), his conscience (1 Tim 4:2), his will (Rom 1:28), his heart (Eph 4:18), and his total being (Rom 1:18–3:20) have been corrupted. This is the doctrine of total depravity. Total depravity does not mean that everyone is as thoroughly depraved in his actions as he could possibly be, nor that everyone will indulge in every form of sin, nor that a person cannot appreciate and even do acts of goodness; but it does mean that the corruption of sin extends to all men and to all parts of all men so that there is nothing within the natural man that can give him merit in God’s sight.” (Ryrie, C. C. (1995). A survey of Bible doctrine. Chicago: Moody Press.)
- “Contrary” - literally means to face towards
- “Conflict” - to be hostile
This is why, for example, when you look at the fruit you can grade them, because you personally experience this conflict.
Examine the list of nine traits listed above and ask the following questions:
- What person in your life greatly challenges you living out one of these traits? Who is your love buster? Who turns your gentleness into a hammer? Who tries your patience? Who would you say is undeserving of your kindness?
- As you look at the past 7 days- where did you excel? Fail?
- In general what one trait is most missing in the body of Christ?
The word “live” means to walk, to conduct one’s life, to regulate or imitate. In the original Greek it is in the imperative and in the present tense, pointing to a continuous action. Both the command and continuous action demonstrate the necessity of living by the Spirit. When you put the Spirit (God’s part) and live (our part) together as Paul does, we realize that this represents a joint venture where God is clearly the Head.
On Sunday I used the imagery of a rowboat, a raft and a sailboat to illustrate this “joint venture” that Paul is talking about in v.16a:
- The rowboat - the propulsion of a rowboat requires someone in the boat to pick up the two oars and put a significant amount of effort into moving the boat through the water. Without that person rowing, the boat will go nowhere.
- The raft - the raft requires no effort at all from its passengers. They can sit and do nothing, while the waves propel the vessel along. Unfortunately, since the raft lacks any effective means of being steered, its passengers find themselves completely at the mercy of the waves, going in whatever random direction in which the waves lead.
- The sailboat - unlike the two above vessels, the sailboat relies on both the force of the wind and the skill of its pilot for successful navigation. The pilot supplies no power at all to propel the vessel forward. That comes from the wind. But if the pilot does not hoist the sails and position them properly, that readily-available wind will never be harnessed to steer the vessel’s chosen course.
Paul is clearly showing that the fruit is the by-product of God’s divine work in our lives and of our proper daily choices.
Let me encourage you over the next several weeks of this series to pray through each of these nine traits, asking God to further mature these traits in your life. Let us remember that Christ modeled each of these traits perfectly.
Love - Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)Mark
Joy - Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2)
Peace - "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given... and his name will be called, 'Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace [sa shalom]'" (Is. 9.6)
Patience - “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” (1 Tim 1:16)
Kindness - Seen in the kinds of people Jesus interacted with, people culture had marginalized - women, Samaritans, lepers, children, demonized, tax collectors, the crippled
Goodness - “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:10,11)
Gentleness - “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt 11:29)
Faithfulness - “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:44)
Self Control - “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
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