With every new day, we are witnessing growing tensions and turmoil in societies around the world. Foreign and domestic terrorism, school shootings, violence and unrest in our streets and on college campuses, drug addictions, broken families, crime, corruption, and religious persecution all seem to be escalating at warp speed.
In the books of Galatians and Ephesians, found in the Holy Bible, the Apostle Paul is writing to Christians with a message for Christians. Even so, it’s a message Christians and non-Christians alike can gain a great deal of wisdom from.
Choosing to reject the “acts of the flesh” Paul outlines below and committing to live by the “fruit of the Spirit”, the whole world might just become a much better and safer place to live.
Living by the Spirit vs. Living by the Flesh
In Galatians the Apostle Paul writes:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:13-15)
“So I say, walk (live) by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Galatians 5:16-17)
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery (wickedness); idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control . . . Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:22-26)
In Ephesians the Apostle Paul writes:
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
Paul speaks of (4) virtues important to Christian living and the key in all four virtues is getting rid of something first:
1. Be humble (humility) – To have humility, we must renounce self-centeredness. Humility is a continual awareness of God, our own sinfulness and frailty, and of the equal value of all other persons.
2. Gentleness – To have gentleness, we must renounce harshness and violence. Gentleness conveys a sensitivity, a desire not to harm, and a valuing of the other person. Gentleness nurtures people, respects them, and allows them to drop defenses and deal more objectively with issues.
3. Patience – To have patience, we must renounce the oppression of our own agendas. Patience is that scale that values other people enough to give them room and time to fail, learn, and develop.
4. Tolerant love – To have tolerant love, we must renounce our rights. Insisting on one’s rights never leads to healthy relationships. Christians must be willing to forgo rights and practice tolerance with others, in love, who believe and think differently.
I believe these four virtues hold true for all people, not just Christians. However, if Christians are to take God’s Word (the Holy Bible) seriously then we have no choice but to commit to living as the Apostle Paul exhorts us to do.
Christian or not, it’s hard to argue with the Apostle Paul on the topic of living by the Spirit rather than living by the flesh!
It’s up to each of us to decide how we will walk, talk, and live. Both choices have consequences; some can be positive and some can certainly be negative.
Choose wisely grasshopper!
See you next week for more Wisdom-Matters!