The Holy Spirit and Evangelism #6

Spirit and Evangelism Series #6

Galatians 5:16-26

The Spirit grows the Fruit of the Spirit in us so we might reach others with God’s love.

The passage lays out two ways of life: living by the Spirit and living by the flesh. Clearly Paul is inviting his readers to live by the Spirit. Beyond the list of practices in vs. 19-21 being bad and the list in vs. 22-24 being good practices, it is worth asking the direction, the focus, of the practices.

The bad list includes: “enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissension, factions, envy”. It is true all those involve other people, but usually by my putting myself first, or above the other. In strife, quarrels, dissension, I am seeking to defend myself and my position as better than the other person. With jealousy and envy, I want what the other has to such an extent that my relationship with them is harmed. So living by the flesh brings me into unhealthy conflict with those around me, largely because of placing my wants above all other wants and needs.

The last six practices on the good list are explicitly other focused: patience with other people who are irritating; kindness towards others; being generous in one’s dealing; being faithful not just to God but to promises and commitments; gentle in dealing with people; and while self-control is about managing oneself, it is done so in a way that means anger and envy are controlled. Even love and peace have other-focused dimensions. Thus living by the Spirit shapes my interaction with others in a way that seeks the good in the other, the good for the other. Life in the Spirit is self-giving.

Francis of Assisi is often quoted as saying, “Preach the gospel, if necessary use words” as a defense for not saying anything about one’s faith, but to simply live the following of Jesus. The kind of Jesus-following Francis would encourage us to is a life lived for the other, lived by the pattern of the fruit of the Spirit, a life of radical service to the other. To be a follower of Jesus is to take on the name Christian – “little Christ” – thus the self-giving seen in Christ is to be seen in the follower of Jesus. At times this is the only way possible to proclaim the gospel, with lives shaped by the fruit of the Spirit growing in us.

The preacher needs to remind their hearers that these patterns of life are not for our personal benefit, but are the work of the Spirit in us for the Spirit’s larger purpose. The Spirit has given them to us that we might live the patterns in our relationships with other people. The Spirit desires that all would be shaped by these patterns, for God desires that all be saved. The gifts are lived out not only in service to others, but so that others might become people in whom the Spirit is growing fruit.   

 

QUOTATIONS:

 

“The nine concepts should be taken as ‘benefits’ where were given as or together with the Spirit. In other words, when the Galatians received the Spirit, they were also given the foundation out of which the ‘fruit’ was supposed to grow.”    —  H.D. Betz

 

“A vine does not produce grapes by Act of Parliament; they are the fruit of the vine’s own life; so the conduct which conforms to the standard of the Kingdom is not produced by any demand, not even God’s, but it is the fruit of that divine nature which God gives as the result of what he has done in and by Christ.”    —   S.H. Hooke  

 

ILLUSTRATION:

 

Joe, we will call him, faces challenges both physically and psychologically. He lives in a boarding house and frequently comes to the church for assistance. Joe believes God has abandoned him, and anyone who tries to convince Joe that God loves him receives a response that God has a strange way of showing love if Joe’s life is an example of God’s love. So talking to Joe about God is a unproductive exercise.

Joe does have a cluster of church folk, who support him. Joe recognizes there is a contrast between the way church people treat him and the way others treat him. Joe wonders why the difference exists, but he is not yet ready to hear an answer to his question. The kindness and the gentleness Joe experiences may one day allow a conversation to take place. Until then the fruit of the Spirit are doing their evangelistic work.

 

HYMNS:

 

“There’s a spirit in the air” (Brian Wren)

“Of all the Spirit’s gifts to me” (Fred Pratt Green)

“Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy”

 

PRAYERS

 

O Bounteous Spirit, I ask you to bring forth in my life your fruits:

the fruit of love, so I may love you above all things and all others for your sake;

the fruit of joy, that I may find my delight in your service;

the fruit of peace, that I may be pardoned through your mercy and may rest in your love;

the fruit of longsuffering so that I may bear, with patience, all afflictions;

the fruit of gentleness, that I may subdue all anger and take calmly and sweetly all trials and provocations;

the fruit of meekness, that I may forgive freely all who have hurt me and endure with patience all burdens that are laid upon me;

the fruit of temperance that I may restrain all my desires and bring them into the

subjection of your holy will. Amen.

 

~ posted on Spread Jesus website. http://www.spreadjesus.org/prayer-for-the-fruits-of-the-spirit.html#.UbeKq-fVCSo

 

Lord, we would grow with you
and bring forth fruit
that is pleasing to you
fed by your living water
giving sustenance to others
Lord, we would grow with you 

 

~ contemporary Welsh prayer posted on A Place for Prayer. http://revgalprayerpals.blogspot.ca/

 

Come, Holy Spirit,         Fill us.

Come, Holy Breath, Live in us.

Come, Holy Wind, Move through us.

 

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves,

so that you live in fear again.” (Rom 8:14-15a)

 

Where we are led by other impulses 

we become slaves again

and our way of being is guided by fear.

 

Where we are guided by prejudice, Fill us with love.

Where we are guided by pessimism, Fill us with joy.

Where we are guided by misunderstanding, Fill us with peace.

Where we are guided by superficial quick-fixes, Fill us with patience.

Where we are guided by self-interest, Fill us with kindness.

Where we are guided by apathy, Fill us with goodness.

Where we are guided by convenience, Fill us with faithfulness.

Where we are guided by complacency, Fill us with meekness.

Where we are guided by temptation, Fill us with self-control.

 

Come, Holy Spirit, Fill us.

Come, Holy Breath, Live in us.

Come, Holy Wind, Move through us.

 

Amen.

 

~ from Aids Candlelight Memorial Service, posted on the Christian Aids Bureau for South Africa website. www.cabsa.org.za/

 

avatar About Peter Bush

Peter Bush is the minister of Westwood Presbyterian Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is the co-author of Where Twenty or Thirty are Gathered: Leading Worship in the Small Church (Alban).

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