In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Spirit verses Flesh
I've been reading in Galatians during my morning times with God lately. This morning I was especially captivated by the way Galatians 5:16 - 35 reads in The Message paraphrase. There were a few things that just really spoke to my heart.
The first was that I appreciated these words of Peterson that, for me, sum up the war between the spirit and the flesh that's described in Galatians 5:16-18:
there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness.
Yep, I can totally relate to this. God's spirit in me, my transformed spirit, wars with my simple, self-pleasing, flesh. Situations come up every day that underscore this truth.
The second was the way that Peterson paraphrased verses 19-21, what Christians commonly refer to as the "works of the flesh". I relate more clearly to the way Peterson paraphrased these then I typically do in other translations, I see these as a description of much of American culture:
It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
Unfortunately some of these are a description of me sometimes.
I'm encouraged by verses 22-23 that explain the fruit of the spirit. I think because I've read these so many times in the KVJ or NIV, that I'm captivated by Peterson's paraphrase of these:
what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
What continues to blow my mind and captivate my interest is how I can experience these gifts, or fruit. Weather I read Peterson's paraphrase of the beginning of verse 22 above where it says "He brings gifts into our lives" or stick with the traditional NIV "the fruit of the Spirit"-either way, it's God who brings these into our lives. I can not manipulate, or produce these things in my life. To be candid it's a relief that I'm not expected to, because one look at this list and I know I can't live like that on my own.
The question for me then, is always how to do as NIV translates verses 23-25: Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit
Peterson's paraphrase of these verses sheds some more light for me:
Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.
There's always this balance in scriptures, isn't there? This truth that it is ONLY through God that we can experience what He has for us, that it's not something we produce by following rules or the law on our own, contrasted with the fact that there are actions on our part. Weather I choose to say it as NIV: let us keep in step with the Spiritor Peterson's The Message:work out its implications in every detail of our lives. Either way, there is a part we play. I can't just expect God to zap me with this changed life.
So, the question for me then, is how do I experience these gifts, or fruit, of the Spirit in my life? What are those actions that help me keep in step with the Spirit or work out the implications of living in Christ?
I certainly don't have all the answers.
I do know that for me, having a time set apart first thing in the day to pray, listen, and read the Word helps. Talking with other Believers, reading blogs or inspirational books during my free time instead of TV or other light reading helps. Memorizing Bible verses seems to help my mind be open to God and His work; sometimes those verses will come back to me just when I need that specific word in my life. Choosing to be conscious of all I have to be thankful for, to have an attitude of gratitude, seems to help me be more conscious of God. Hearing the experiences and thoughts of others' sharpens my own thought process and experience.
What about you, what do you find helps you experience the fruit of the Spirit in your life?
I'm just grateful to God for His goodness to me and want to live my life following after Him. I've been blessed with 3 awesome sons and in July of 2005 I remarried. My husband truly knows me and still loves me - how much more blessed could I be!
I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Perceptive words spread knowledge; fools are hollow—there's nothing to them. GOD can't stand pious poses, but he delights in genuine prayers. A life frittered away disgusts GOD; he loves those who run straight for the finish line.
So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.