Scripture is incredibly intentional. Every word matters. When Paul writes to the Galatians about how to live, his instructions are to walk, not run, by the Spirit. That word matters. Living the Christian life is a step-by-step reality. Over the next 40 days (well now 39) we will discover those steps.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.Galatians 5:16-17
What Paul begins to set up here is a tug-of-war, one that begins when you give your life to Christ and never ends. Our flesh is our sinful nature, which will never not be sinful. We sin without trying. We are born with the capacity to sin and never lose that capacity. When we come to faith in Christ, the Spirit of Christ comes to live within us. And the war begins.
Maybe you’ve experienced that already today. You got up with great intentions, but lost your cool on the way to work. Maybe your kids were difficult this morning and you were short with them, and felt guilty as soon as you dropped them off. We are too good at sinning. That’s what Paul means by the phrase, “to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Enter the Holy Spirit. His work is to change our desires so that they align with His, and when that happens he produces fruit.
We will eventually focus on the specific fruit of the Spirit, but before we do it’s imperative that we understand that we cannot produce this fruit by ourselves. If we could we wouldn’t need the Spirit. He is at work in you (even now!) to produce fruit. And just as an apple tree jumping up and down, waving its limbs won’t produce apples, you can’t work yourself into spiritual fruit bearing. The Spirit resides in you to do that.
Here’s how you can pray through this: Father, I thank you that you, by your grace, saved me…knowing what a sinner I am and how I desperately need your grace. I thank you that you did not leave me to myself, to live this life alone, but gave me the Holy Spirit who lives in me, to produce fruit that I cannot produce. So Father I surrender to you. Your Spirit is free to work in me to make me loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful and self-controlled. As I walk (not run) by the Spirit today, help me to keep in step with the One who lives inside me, not to get ahead of you, nor to lag behind. In Jesus’ strong name. Amen.
I needed this today.