June 25, Friday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, prepared by Pastor Jason Sato who is currently serving in Japan as a missionary, is an updated version of his blog first posted on April 25, 2014.  Jason is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Ordinary Sins”

Galatians 5:16-18 (ESV)

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, [20] idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, [21] envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. [24] And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. [25] If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. [26] Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

federica-giusti-uYl9tJsnBXk-unsplashIn our passage this morning, Paul continues to encourage the Galatian Church to walk by the Spirit, detailing the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.

As we browse the list of sins found in v. 19-21, certain sins seem pretty heinous (sorcery or orgies), and thus seem rather extreme and far off from us. Other sins cause us guilt and shame if we commit them (sexual immorality, fits of anger, drunkenness). These sins are closer to home, and we wage a conscious battle with them.

But there seems to be a third group of sins that seem to be so ordinary, that we hardly notice them (jealousy, rivalries, divisions). More often than not, we deceive ourselves into believing that we do not struggle with such things. If we are forced to admit that we do, we chalk it up to inevitable conflict and say, “Everyone can’t be best friends.”

But we cannot dismiss God’s commandments and heart so easily. Notice the relational nature of the fruit of the Spirit: The presence of the Spirit produces love, kindness, and gentleness. The Spirit enables us to be patient and forgive our brother seventy-seven times. The Spirit grants us faithfulness when we are tempted to quit on other people. The Spirit gives us self-control that we might kill our flesh and pride and choose forgiveness and grace.

In John 17:20-21, Jesus prays, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, [21] that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Pray that the fruit of the Spirit might manifest itself in your relationships.  Ask that in your church, examples of supernatural forgiveness would display the reality of Christ’s greater forgiveness.

Prayer: Father, I desire to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. Forgive me that I have hardened my heart toward some of my brothers and sisters. Convict me of my sin and give me grace and courage to forgive and be a peacemaker. May You be honored as I seek to follow Your Son. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Romans 1


Lunch Break Study

Read James 4:1-4 (ESV): “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? [2] You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. [3] You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. [4] You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Questions to Consider

  1. In the midst of conflicts, quarrels, fights, even murder can occur. According to v. 1-2a, what is the source of such conflict?
  2. According to v. 3-4, what sorts of desires fuel sinful conflict?
  3. According to v. 4, who are we ultimately having conflict with?

Notes

  1. While we are tempted to believe that the source of conflict is the other person, the real source is our frustration that our desires are unfulfilled. People do not give us what we want and so we have conflict.
  2. Wrong desires (v.3) and worldly desires (v.4) fuel sinful conflict. These desires can be things like comfort, ease, wealth, respect, recognition, etc.
  3. While our conflict appears to be solely about people, our conflict is primarily with God. Our worldly desires and rejection of God are behind our sinful responses to others.

Evening Reflection

Reflect on your day. Where did you see the fruit of the Spirit displayed in your life? Praise God. Where did you see the works of the flesh? Repent, receive grace, and praise God.

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