There is an unfortunate myth that perpetuates itself throughout church communities. It can be fairly well summed up in an old saying I once heard: “I don’t drink, smoke, chew, or date girls that do.” The myth is that Christians are just supposed to stay away from a lot of things and they’ll be good.
Don’t drink. Don’t lie. Don’t have premarital sex. Don’t cheat. Don’t gamble. Don’t…..and the list grows depending on which church you attend.
Unfortunately, many people ascribe to this belief. But, that is NOT Christianity. If it were, your dog would be the best Christian around. He doesn’t cuss. He doesn’t get drunk. He doesn’t go out doing bad things. What a great dog! He’s so good.
But no, that is not Christianity. Paul addressed this issue in the letter to the Galatians. Listen to what defines a Christian life for Paul.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Paul is telling them that their individual lives and their community (the “church”) should be defined by these things. How many people in your community, when asked to describe your church, would even mention this list?
Fact is, we spend so much time trying to “overcome” sin on our own that we miss out on the fruit of our relationship with God. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Abiding in Christ, relationship with God – that is what produces that fruit Paul talks about.
And I found this interesting: The word “fruit” in Paul’s passage is singular. Love, joy, peace, etc. is one package. They are not just a bunch of individual things we work really hard on. They are a bundle of fruit blossoming from the vine. Think of it like a bunch of grapes. One fruit, just a bunch of it. That’s the fruit of the Spirit.
What if our church was known for its love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? People long for that kind of community. Instead, we spend the majority of our time focused on the “shall nots.”
Do you see this fruit in your life?
Does your Christianity consist mostly of no’s?
Do you abide in Christ each day or work on your own power?