Monday, July 6, 2009

Galatians 5:22-24 (The Fruit of the Spirit)

When people want to come across as clever about the Bible, they say stuff like: “You realize, here, that Paul shows us that there is just ONE fruit of the Spirit, not nine. He says that the fruit (not fruits) of the Spirit is (not are)…” What do they mean by teaching that? If you are loving and gentle, but lack joy or self-control: “So sorry, man, you just have some virtues, not the fruit (singular) of the Spirit.” And how do they explain Paul’s statement that there is no law against such thingS?

Since this is such a pivotal passage, it supports a lot of teaching and reading and meditation. However, taken in the general theme of Galatians thus far argued—the Gospel vs. Religion and Legalism—these nine virtues stand out for how non-religious they are.

Religion and Legalism tell us to judge not love; that joy comes when we enjoy something—a sure sign that it must be wrong; that wrong behavior and belief should be purged and fought; that we should work hard to be perfect right now! Should we really be kind with others, even when they fail? Should goodness be treasured rather than righteousness? Should we just trust that the Spirit will perfect, when true faith would always be reflected in right behavior? Why be gentle with our fellow sinners when discipline should be hard? Why just worry about self-control, when there is a whole body of believers to control?

It seems instead that the fruit of the Spirit produces qualities in the individual, and when these qualities are exercised towards others they do not control, but support; they do not demand, but give; they do not impose, but seek to bless. Once again, Love not Law is what governs our behavior.

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