2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Peace be with you!
When I lived in St Paul, I had a personal trainer named Ashley. She is awesome at her job. She could get me to do things I did not know I could do. Shortly after I moved away, Ashley made a difficult decision to move back to her small hometown and work at a local rehab center. She enjoyed her clients and co-workers at a big health club, but her job consistently required Ashley to sell herself as a personal trainer to new members. The health club required Ashley to have so many clients and personal training sessions that her clients were becoming numbers, not individuals with personal goals. Ashley grew weary of the corporate personal training world, and she decided to instead take a job where she could help people without having to sell herself. Her new job did not require Ashley to draw in new clients by working on commission; instead she can focus on the individual needs and goals of her clients. Ashley is able to put aside the numbers and focus on the individual.
Paul continues his letter to the Galatians with a warning about the flesh. Operating out of the flesh prevents us from doing good works that honor God and instead makes us impure and causes us to sin. The work of the flesh causes us to “fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19b-21a NRSV). These actions place our lives in bondage to the Devil who continues to try to separate us from the Triune God.
Ashley felt like a slave to selling person training sessions at a big health club. As a result, she wasn’t really free to live out her God-given passion to help people achieve their personal wellness goals. After four years of moving up the corporate chain and learning all she could from a big health club, Ashley had enough of the corporate world and was really for a new challenge. At some point in our lives, we have all been there – the wrong career or place of employment, a bad relationship, or [whatever “it” is] that made you give up your core principles for an exterior motive. Life seems to lose its appeal when we give up our core principles to achieve someone else’s goals.
Fortunately, the fruit of the Spirit works against the flesh by giving us freedom from [whatever “it” is] that binds us to the evil things in world. The fruit of the Spirit creates “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22b-23a NRSV) in the world. The flesh does whatever it can to keep the fruit of the Spirit out of the world. However, God the Father sent Jesus Christ into the world to free us from the bondage of sin. Jesus frees us from the Devil’s grip on us by giving us eternal life.
Yet we are given a choice as to how we use our energy in the world: the work of the flesh or the fruit of the Spirit. Paul warns us that doing the work of the flesh will not allow us to inherit the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21b). The work of the flesh takes us away from the Triune God who loves us unconditionally. When we do the work of the flesh, we choose destruction and pain by living apart from the Triune God.
However, when we do the fruit of the Spirit, we live into eternal life with the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We choose to be set free from our sinful selves. By doing the fruit of the Spirit, we are free to serve others and God in love without any self interest. The goal of the Spirit is to ensure no one is homeless, hungry, or naked. The Spirit creates a community to take care of God’s children. By loving our neighbor, we are living according to God’s way of being. Our fruit of the Spirit gives glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The corporate world of a big health club kept Ashley from what she loved and found most freeing: helping people meet their individual wellness goals. Ashley took a scary step of faith by leaving a big health club and moving to a small town to work at a small rehab clinic. By doing so, Ashley directed her skill set to help people who would not be able afford to work with someone otherwise. Ashley’s passion for others’ wellness is visible by how she dedicates herself to her work.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do the fruit of the Spirit. Help us to love our neighbor according to your way of living. Keep us from being captives to the flesh, and free us from its grip. Guide us as we go about our day to bring you glory through the fruit of the Spirit. Thank you for setting us free from the flesh. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. What does it mean to be free?
2. How do you do the fruit of the Spirit?