Posted in Christianity, Love

Living the Fruit of the Spirit


As I sat in Bible class on Sunday morning, listening as others were picking out what they had found of note in the previous week’s reading of Galatians, a couple of pretty powerful conclusions came to me.
The first began as I looked at the footnote in my NASB for the phrase “the righteous man will live by faith,” which said that what was meant here was actually closer to the word “faithfulness.”
Now, faith and faithfulness, I believe, are two entirely different animals. In our venacular, we tend to equate the word faith with belief, which implies just believing that Christ is risen is sufficient for salvation. But faithfulness means something beyond mere belief. Faithfulness
is more like believing by doing. Aha. Now, we have a problem. If I must believe by doing in order to be redeemed, then do my actions and not grace save me? Perhaps a better definition of faithfulness might be belief through being.
Let me explain.
The second grand conclusion I discovered Sunday was the fact that the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 are actually the “fruit” of the Spirit. Singular, not plural, implying a crop or harvest of something. Once redeemed, the one who lives in faithfulness is seeking to be one who embodies all of the characteristics of Galatians 5:22-23. This is a state of being, fostered by the indwelling Spirit, redeemed upon inevitable failure by the grace of Christ.
Which brings us to the question of legalism. When Christ said his yoke was light, I believe he meant in comparison to the yoke of fulfillment which constituted Jewish religion at that time. The Talmud (as opposed to the Torah, upon which our modern OT cannon is based), which elaborated on the items of Deuteronomy and Leviticus, had grown to include so many items, that I am sure living up to its mandates would be something like living in the mind of a person with OCD. Wash hands so many times before touching this, step on a crack, break your mother’s back. That sort of thing.
When Christ proposed to lift the yoke of this kind of living, He could not have meant that living
would suddenly be easier. How is it a lighter yoke to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, meek and in control of the self–all the time? It is lighter, perhaps, in that instead of following a distinct set of rules, the freedom of salvation means the freedom to be, not do. The actions that happen as a result of being are much lighter than actions required from a list of doing.
I think the Western mind may have a problem with this concept that believing still requires doing because we do not wrap our minds around the concept of dualities. There’s a little bit of the feminine in the masculine and vice versa. We all have good and evil. Being is more than just believing, even though our actions, ultimately, are not what save us. When Christ, and subsequently Paul, smashed the legalistic requirements of salvation, they opened the door to a way of life that embodied more than any written law. Living the law of Christ is very different from living the Talmud. It is much more challenging, but it is also freeing because, as the Nicole Nordemann song reminds us–“His mercies are new every morning.” No matter how often we fall, as long as we sincerely repent, Christ helps us rise to begin again.

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Author:

I am a 40-something Texan with a feisty cat and a supportive husband of 20 years. With a Master's degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing, I have taught creative writing at Texas Tech, won awards for my writing and been blessed to be mentored by Horn Professor and poet Dr. Walt McDonald. I earn a living by helping my husband's family run a health food store, but my avocation is writing. I hope you enjoy reading about some of my triumphs and tragedies as I continue to work on figuring out what life is all about and on growing my ability to share my writing. May your own journey be a blessed one.

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