Last week, in Part 1, we started looking at Galatians 5 through the lens of vision and strategy. The culmination of the first half of the chapter was this thought:
If love isn’t at the center of who we are, we’ll abandoned the very thing that define us as Christ-followers in the pursuit of doing his work.
The second half of Galatians 5 focuses in our our heart, and how our lives can’t help but display our core values.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 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. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
It sounds as though Paul is saying if we are led by the Spirit, we aren’t judged by the quality of our actions. But that’s not entirely accurate. Paul is saying the focus of our heart is what is most important.
Leaders are tempted to evaluate our significance through the praise of those who follow us. When our primary focus drifts from lead individually and corporately by the Spirit, we fall under the crushing weight of expectation. We begin to feel our lack more than our God and we’re driven to satisfy the “desires of the flesh.”
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: …impurity, … 20 idolatry, …enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy…and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
We typically focus on the sexual sins in this passage. But for this context, I focused on the other sins we typically fall into in organizations. These sins are just as dangerous as the others.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
And here it is. This is the difference between living under the law and living under grace. Both strive to do the will of God, (law and grace are both from God, and therefore good) but the new-covenant says that “faith working through love” results in both of these qualities.
If we are not demonstrating these “Fruit of the Spirit” qualities, this verse seems to say either God’s Spirit is not in us or that our earthly desires are overwhelming his Spirit in us. Jesus said in John 15, “I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.” If we are connected to God, and receive all we need from him, this fruit will show up in our lives. We won’t have to work at it, it will simply show up.
Jesus also said right after, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” which could be translated “if you’re not demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit, you will accomplish nothing.” How’s that for a daily self-evaluation tool?
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
We place ourselves under law the instant we stop seeking to please God first and trade it for desire, success, obligation or expectation. When we do that, we lose grace and the Fruit of the Spirit. Diligence without love is living under law. While we must measure, strategize, create systems and pursue diligence, we can’t forget what really matters is our heart in HOW we do them. Our first priority is always to follow Christ and his example- Faith. Working. Through love.
Where is your heart today? Are you being Spirit-led or are you trying to measure up to a standard? Do you see the Fruits of the Spirit growing in your engagement with the world around you? And, if not, what do you need to do differently?