Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Hint to Walking in the Spirit

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.(Gal. 5:16-17, ESV)

Walking in the Spirit is hard.

Despite teachings that as a believer we will seemingly "want the right things", Paul presents our faith-walk as a struggle between the flesh and the Spirit. We may WANT to do new things, but our flesh will always take us a different direction. We have to rein ourselves in, you might say.

But recently I've found a hint to walking in the Spirit ... a hint tucked right into Paul's letter to Galatia.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself....”If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life... And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Gal. 5:13-14; 25-26; 6:9-10)

Paul talks about love and serving one another in the same section that he discusses walking in the Spirit. I've never noticed the connection before, but I don't think it's an accident.

I've noticed that it's much easier for me to fight sin when my life is filled with serving others than when I'm focused on my own struggle with sin. The principle is borne out when I watch the lives of others. Whether it's a family member, a Christian co-worker, or someone at church, I see that fleshly patterns are more apparent when people are not serving and using their gifts than when they are. A critical spirit disappears when it is turned outward into a sharp focus in a crisis situation. A pity party ends when the gift of mercy is being used in the life of a needy child. My own tendency to over-intellectualize - and the pride that can stir - is squashed when my efforts are poured into teaching and I'm reminded how many questions I still don't know how to answer.

Are you struggling to walk in the Spirit? Take a hint from Paul. Walk in love and service using the gifts God gave you. See if that makes the Spirit flow much more freely in your life!

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