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Fruit of God’s Spirit

by davesandel on January 14th, 2021

Thursday, January 14, 2021               (today’s lectionary)

Fruit of God’s Spirit

Let us kneel before the Lord who made us.

We teach our children to be honest above all things. Any consequence for disobedience is made much worse when they lie about it. So what happens to us as we grow up, and the crusts of disappointment and fear settle on our skin? My unwillingness to share my own secrets makes me the crassest kind of hypocrite, and I feel it from the bottom of my feet to the top of my head. I’m a liar.

I’m a sinner, that is to say. But Rosalind Rinker in her book Prayer calls out my preoccupation with my own ugliness, the “morbid, negative daily condemnation that saps the life out of me and keeps me from receiving all He wants to give me.”

She invites me to be a child again.

When you find something that condemns you, bring it at once to His feet, and it will be transformed. Because all the fruits of the Spirit are sins transformed. Resentment is changed to love. Sadness is changed to joy. Unbelief is changed to faith. Rebellion is changed to acceptance. These are simply the gifts which accompany the Giver. Where He is, and where He lives, are all the good things He wants to give to us. We don’t pick faith out of the air, or off a limb. Jesus Christ is our faith.

At our prison Kogudus renewal retreats, we talked in our groups about picking one fruit from Galatians 5:22, one we knew we needed help with. Love? Joy? Peace? Patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self control? But I see now that these are gifts from Jesus’ heart, and all that stops my receiving them are their opposites. So the “work” I need to receive these gifts is all about confession. Kneeling before God with what I am afraid to share, but know I must.

The Holy Spirit says, “Oh, that today you would hear his voice! Harden not your hearts.” We have become partners of Christ. A leper came to Jesus and knelt before him. The leper said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” And Jesus, moved with pity, stretched out his hand and touched the leper. He said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately.

C. S. Lewis in chapter 11 of The Great Divorce tells the story of a Ghost who lives with an ugly Lizard-demon whispering constantly in his ear. The Spirit offers to remove the creature. “May I kill it?” he says over and over. But the ghost is afraid he won’t be able to live without him, and of course the lizard assures the man that he is right. “Don’t listen to that God-guy,” he tells him. But God continues to offer, and finally in desperation the man accepts his invitation.

In a flash the demon is burned up, wailing, and then gone. But no … not gone. As the demon withers, it is transformed into a beautiful white stallion. And even more, the ghost is transformed into a beautiful strong man, who now holds the stallion’s mane in his hands. He falls on his face before the Spirit, rises up, leaps on the stallion and rides away. All the trees around them clap their hands.

Let us kneel before the Lord who made us.

With the children, surely as children ourselves praying, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,” we can sleep the sleep of angels.

(Hebrews 3, Psalm 95, Matthew 4, Mark 1)

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