I hadn’t presented Galatians in a long time. More than a year. When the pastors at Castle Oaks Church in Colorado asked me to do it last Sunday I knew that I better hit my “refresh” button.
I’ve gotta say, living in Galatians every day for the last couple weeks has been an encouragement – and a kick in the trailer.
I have written a bit on identity in the past. (Here are a few of the posts if you’re interested.) Seems like I am speaking on it more and more these days. Not a week goes by that I don’t have at least one conversation about it.
Identity. The topic seems to be popping up everywhere.
This even appeared on my Facebook Page today:
After hearing you speak at the Care Net conference and reading your “Like Ice Cream” book, I immediately ordered two of these – one for my home and another for my office! http://bit.ly/Tdxl7P
Back to Galatians…
Sometimes the familiar parts of the Bible just fly on by. The “fruits of the Spirit” are one of those parts. You know how it goes…
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
One of the times I was walking through Galatians, God stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t get past this paragraph. These familiar words echoed in my head as God asked me this question:
Does the apple tree in your backyard produce apples because it’s the right decision? Because producing a pear would be the wrong decision? No. Of course not. It produces apples because it’s an apple tree!
Only took 43 years. But I finally got it.
The fruits of the Spirit are not something you do. They are what oozes out of you when you know who you are. (If you liked that, you can Tweet It.)
Hmmmm…maybe that’s why Paul’s next words are:
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful naturewith its passions and desires.Since we live by the Spirit,let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Two quick lessons from the apple tree:
1. You are not your sinful nature.
Satan loves to play that card, doesn’t he? The accusations typically start with either You’ll never…or…You’ll always… But that’s like saying the apple tree isn’t really an apple tree. It’s just a seed. Or it’s really a pear tree that “looks” like an apple tree. Ridiculous.
If you belong to Christ, then the truest thing about you is not your sin. The truest thing about you is that you are a new creation. Beautiful.
That last line is worth reading again. In fact, read it two more times. (Don’t worry. I’ll wait.)
2. Keep in step with the Spirit and the fruit will take care of itself.
When the behavior is the end goal, we miss it. Christ didn’t come and die so that you could do good stuff. So that you could impress people. So that you could be tamed. He came so that you could – with reckless abandon – live in bold relationship with Him.
I don’t know about you, but I forget this way too often.
Our pursuit is not the fruit. Our pursuit is the person of Christ. Our pursuit is not the activity. Our pursuit is nearness to our Creator. As we know Him more fully, recognize his voice more quickly, and come to embrace more completely that we are fully known – and fully loved – we can’t help but bear the fruit.
Just like the apple tree.