Galatians 5:22-23, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
What does it look like on the with-God side of the battle? I enjoy how Peterson expands these nine fruits in The Message:
- Love – “affection for others”
- Joy – “exuberance about life”
- Peace – “serenity”
- Patience – “a willingness to stick with things”
- Kindness – “a sense of compassion in the heart”
- Goodness – “a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people”
- Faithfulness – “We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments”
- Gentleness – “not needing to force our way in life”
- Self-control – “able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
The look of this side of the battlefield is very different from the other. Genuine caring. A deep Joie de Vivre. A heart and mind truly at rest. The ability to graciously live well with what is. A basic orientation that seeks the good of others. The ability to see the image of God underneath any distortion of creation or of people—original virtue. The resolve to stay with what is good and right and holy no matter how challenging the journey becomes. The restraint to never force anyone or anything. And the power to always choose life for myself and for those I care about. This is the side I want to choose!
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
If I truly belong to Jesus, then the without-God desires by which I have lived my life in the past have been nailed to His cross. They are dying on the cross, not living in my heart. The passions that drive me away from God are judged and executed on the cross.
My true life is in the Spirit. Since this is true, choosing life lies in the direction of the Spirit’s desire and guiding in each arena of my life. If I choose gluttony, I am choosing death and the destruction of my body. If I choose laziness, I choose spiritual poverty and withering disconnection. If I choose lust, I choose pleasure without love, excitement without joy, anesthesia without peace.
I’m back to the question that must be answered today—right now. I don’t have a choice to leave the battlefield. The illusion of that choice is exposed by Paul as a default choice for the status quo of this without-God world. Will I choose life today or will I choose death. My choice at any given moment is this stark. And the choice is presented me right now. It is not a choice I put off until some foggy future or daydream about for a different past. I choose life now. Now is the only time when I can choose.
What will choosing life look like for me in this moment today? What would choosing death look like?
- Choosing death would be to disengage from the work I have to do today.
- Choosing life would be to creatively, hopefully engage with the work God’s Spirit has brought to my mind this morning. It would be to trust that whatever I need in the way of courage, energy, creativity, compassion or direction will be given as I need it.
- Choosing death would be to let myself believe that, for whatever reason, I can’t do the work before me.
- Choosing life would be to trust that, being in Christ as I am, I can do absolutely anything put before me.
Enable me today to choose life. Amen.