Monday, January 4th Galatians 5:22-26

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26

Welcome to another brand spanking new year! This will be the year that I turn 50 and I’ve already sensed a change in my perceptions.

We watched an Adam Sandler movie over the holidays where his character reflected on the changing perceptions of aging. He talked about the ‘20’s when we rage against personal limitations, our ‘30’s when we rage against institutional injustice and our ‘40’s when we wonder what it is in the refrigerator. I’m feeling a bit like that as we round the bend into 2010.

I haven’t made any new year’s resolutions. But I have a list of them that I would like to make – work harder on learning Spanish, write more, use my time wisely, (an the standards) lose weight, exercise more and make more healthy choices. I’m going to give each an honest shot but I’m not going to rise to the level of “resolve.” Because my life experience has told me that I would just be setting myself up for failure. I don’t want to move into a new year with a plan to fail.

But I am moving into this new year with a Bible passage in mind. It is this famous passage from Galatians. We’re going to listen to these same verses all week. Each day we will focus on one or more of the gifts Paul lists. By the end of the week, I will have them memorized. If, at the end of 2010, I will have grown at all in exhibiting these gifts in my daily life, it will have been a good year.

Love, joy and peace belong together. You could write a book on each but they belong together just the same. The “love” Paul writes about is agape love – self giving, self sacrificing love that is solely interested in the good of the beloved. It isn’t erotic love (love that seeks to use the beloved) or friendly love (love that seeks to enjoy the beloved). It isn’t wishy washy sentimentality but the kind of love that drove Jesus to a cross and the kind of love that forces me into new behaviors toward those I find difficult to love. I can’t get or model that love on my own. It can only come as a gift.

Living in such love opens the door to joy. Joy is an attitude more than a feeling. It is a deep sense in the basic “alrightness” of life under God. In the face of the darkness of the world, joy is a deep abiding sense that the world bends toward justice and that, in time, what we work for will work out. Happiness comes and goes but deep abiding joy is truly a gift of the Spirit that sustains.

And peace. I want to live in and work for peace this year. Peace, not as an absence of conflict but peace as the presence of love. Peace in the midst of struggle. Peace in the face of division. Peace in the face of the unknown and the unseen. The kind of peace that comes as we courageously engage life rather than piously avoiding such engagement. Real peace. Only love can fuel such engagement.

The world needs such love. Joy. And peace.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, walk with us into this new year of life. You’ll hear our resolutions just as you heard our Christmas wish lists. You’ll hear our wishful thinking and sense our lack of resolve. If we are to grow this year, we need the power of your Spirit in our lives and the gifts that only your Spirit can bring. Open us, fill us and use us this new year. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

4 Responses to “Monday, January 4th Galatians 5:22-26”

  1. Nicki Says:

    Beautiful words to live by! Thanks for your daily inspiration.

  2. Julia Cloninger Halford Says:

    Oh, I needed all of this knowledge yesterday, today, and forever. My major wish everyone for 2010 is “To keep on keeping on”.
    Thanks for continuing to write and share – and PLEASE be careful when you are on one of your motorcycle (Harley?) road trips. I still have the series about “following the leader” and I NEED all of His leadership He and you can spare.
    Peace. love, joy in 2010; God willing, Julia
    Julia Cloninger Halford, Musician
    Camden, South Carolina

  3. Patrick Saylor Says:

    Thank you, Kerry, for sharing God’s word. Like you, this will be my 50th year and I too approach it with a far different viewpoint than in previous years. The world is a scary place, yet I am not afraid. I know that God has blessed me in innumerable ways and for that I am truly grateful. I ask for nothing but His assistance, strength and guidance in growing and sharing those fruits of the spirit as outlined by Paul.

  4. Peggy Says:

    Pastor Kerry,

    Thanks for the rewarding message this day on the fruits of the Spirit. We always need to remember what they reall6y stand for and use them every day of our life. Thanks and have a blessed 2010. Peggy.

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