Thursday, March 28, 2013

Galatians 5:22 – 24 says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
The word ‘fruit’ used in this passage is a singular noun, not plural, which suggests that a person who lives through grace with the help of the Holy Spirit possesses all of these qualities.  In other words, as we strive to be like Christ, these attributes – love, joy, peace, forbearance, etc – should be part of our daily pattern as we strive for holiness.  Every day, all day long, we are faced with situations to which we can either react in a way that is governed by Christ or in a way that is governed by our flesh.  Many things evoke a passionate response—anger, love, or fear, to name a few—so the question then becomes: how do we wield our passions? Are they channeled through grace so that we grow in faith and so that our reaction to passion is good? Or do our passions give way to selfishness so that our reaction to the circumstances that brought about our passion is a sinful one?
Daily, we must die to ourselves—put our own desires and selfishness aside – in order to become more like Christ.  It is only by trusting in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can put aside the flesh.  Humans have only two choices as to how to live their lives: they either serve God or they serve themselves. In his Letter to the Romans (chapter 1), St. Paul points out that God has revealed himself to mankind: “his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse.”  In the third chapter of his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul tells us that the righteousness of God is revealed to us through the Law and the Prophets and that his righteousness is a gift bestowed upon those who believe in Jesus Christ. We are justified freely and redeemed by the blood that Jesus shed on the Cross.  Justification is a gift of our faith, not earned by any merit of our own “so that no man can boast.”
If we cannot earn our salvation—if it is truly a gift, based not on our own good deeds but on the love and grace of God—then why work so hard to achieve Holiness?  I Peter 1:15 says: “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy because I (Christ) am holy’.” Why? We obey the Father because we love him – obedience is the highest form of worship we can offer.

                                                “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice
                                                and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

                                                                                                                                -- Hosea 6: 8

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