Interesting fact: The Dead Sea has fresh water flowing into it and none running out, and yet, it is shrinking. On the other hand, the Sea of Galilee has many rivers flowing out of it, including the Jordan River, and it is thriving. The analogy is that to thrive, we have to give ourselves away. If we constantly take and consume without giving back, we will live small lives and shrink away to nothing.
For example, you never go to a funeral and hear about how great it was that this guy sat in front of the television for 8 hours a day, right? Usually people that lead that kind of life have a very small and short funeral. In contrast, the person who spent his life pouring into others has a well-attended funeral with lots of tears, but a whole lot of laughter, too. That person lived a life full of the fruit of the Spirit and touched many people, and it shows. The way to measure the value of life is by measuring how much of it was given away.
When Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians, he is giving us the secret to a well-lived life. These fruits — Love; Patience – your pace, not mine; Kindness – thinking of others before yourself; Goodness – doing the right thing, even if it costs; Gentleness – leveraging my power for your benefit, and Self Control – are the keys to happiness. Although it may not be natural for us to behave this way, this is how God designed us. Selfishness is natural, but it is not by design. God made us to live in the fruit of the Spirit. It may not be intuitive, but the more we choose to live in this way, the happier we will be. When we finally realize that it’s not all about me – it’s about God and others, we will become happier. Jesus tells us just that when he says the law can be summed up this way: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. In Matthew 22:40, Jesus continues to say that all the laws and demands of the prophets hinge on these. He is saying that when we love, we will automatically do what is right and follow the laws and demands of the prophets.
In essence, Paul is saying the same thing in Galatians 5:23. This is the real kicker, and it is often overlooked. He says, “against such things there is no law.” What does he mean? If we live in the fruit of the Spirit, there would be no need for laws.
We were made for this. Here is where we flourish. We were designed to live in a community characterized by these traits. There would be no need for any law because when I’m committed to your best interest, and you’re committed to mine, we can all live without fear. Imagine how happy we would all be.
So, what does this look like? It’s more than a couple of hours at the animal shelter. It’s more than an outreach organized by your work that you feel obligated to attend. It is a conscious effort to put other people first in your life. It is the choice to get out of your comfort zone and give your time and energy to make the world a better place. There are so many ways to get involved, so many things that you can do! Make the decision to open your hands and let God show you what he wants you to do. Take a step. And remember, nothing is written in stone. You may try something that isn’t a good fit for you. That’s okay! Try something else. But try. I promise it will be worth it!
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Have you ever thought about your funeral? What would you like people to say about your life?
Look at the fruit of the Spirit. Are these words that people would use to describe you?
What is the next step you need to take to start giving your life away?
Father, thank you for designing me to live for more than myself. Help me to choose to think of others and give my life to others. Help me to be like the Sea of Galilee, where you flow in and through me and then out of me to everyone I come into contact with. Amen.
This post was written by Kelda Strasbourg, Kelda is a grateful member of the LivingItOut writing team. She has a love for Jesus and the desire to help others find that same love. She has her own business and a border collie named Emily.
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