The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:19-23)
I don’t send out enough verses about the Holy Spirit. This is a key paragraph in Paul’s letter to the Galatians (and in all his writings I’d say). He is taking on the error in that group of churches — and in all of us — to depend on “the flesh” rather than “the Spirit.” In this summary statement, he predicts where reliance on each ends up. A common mistake is to refer to these as ‘the fruits of the Spirit’ — I hear that all the time. But Paul uses the singular: “fruit”. What’s the difference? These are not character traits on a moral buffet that we choose among. When the Spirit is present they are all there. It’s a valid proof of the Spirit working when you see all of them in a person, or sometimes in a group, because humans couldn’t pull that off. The Galatians’ mistake, and often mine, is trying to use a fleshly/human approach to get what only the Spirit can deliver. How does the Spirit do it? I don’t know, but I know the Spirit does. The kind of fruit you see in your life tells you what team you’re on.
Lord, by now I should know enough to trust your Spirit and not my flesh. But once again I have to confess my selfish ambition of trying to do this on my own. I open the my life to the work of the Spirit and its fruit. Amen.