Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. . . . By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:19–21a, 22–23
When the choice is as black and white as the type on this page, who would choose the works of the flesh? We don’t dream of being people who live in dissension and careless self-indulgence. We don’t want to be people like that. When we read the list of the fruits of the Spirit, the spirit within us really does groan and ache to live in such ways. If we could just choose between these two lists and stick with that choice once and for all, all would be well!
But that is not what life is like. You want to stay faithful to your spouse, but then someone attractive comes into view. You don’t want to have another argument with your child, but then they make the same darn mistake yet again. You don’t want to be jealous and envious, but then you see the life someone else is living and you can’t help feeling a bit covetous. On paper we would not choose the desires of the flesh, but we do not live on paper—we live in a world full of temptation and sin. So, how do we live by the Spirit and not be entirely dominated by the flesh? Keep the words of the Spirit before us at all times, pray to always live by them, and trust that God’s Spirit within us is stronger than our desire to gratify our flesh.
How would you choose to live?
Lord, I would not want to be known as a jealous or envious person. I don’t want to be a drunk or divisive or difficult person. I don’t want to live out of control. I long to be known as generous, kind, and thoughtful. But the things I want and the things I do are so often in conflict with one another. It is as if I am two entirely different people—the person I am and the person I inwardly long to be. Help me to become one person in You, the loving and faithful person I dare to believe You created me to be. In Your name, I pray. AMEN.