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Wednesday, April 2, 2014
The Fruit of the Spirit in the Life of Christ - an Introduction
I‘ve been contemplating a project for 25 years now. I have been intrigued by the idea of studying the life of Christ with an eye toward how he models the fruit of the Spirit for us. I wonder what I can learn from such a study. I hope you will come along with me and see where it goes. This blog is specific to pain management in the context of my practice of massage therapy. I think it will be an interesting perspective on the subject.
The Fruit of the Spirit is listed in Gal. 5:22-23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
This in an interesting list in many ways. One thing that catches my eye is that it occurs in a context. A few verses earlier there is the concern of fighting in the church. This is followed by a listing of the “Works of the Flesh” listed in verses 19-21:
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit are contrasted. The idea is that the life of a believer is very different from the non-believer.
Another point of interest is that this is but one of many such lists. Another one is found in Eph. 4:20-32. In that passage we are told that we are to take off certain behaviors and put on other ones. There is actual work we are to do.
Therefore, putting away lying, "LET EACH ONE OF YOU SPEAK TRUTH WITH HIS NEIGHBOR," for we are members of one another. "BE ANGRY, AND DO NOT SIN": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
As you can see the lists are different. I just want to point out that the Fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians is not all that is said about growth in the Christian life. It is important but it is not everything.
Another issue in this study will be watching out for moralism. There is often a tendency to just read sections like this and turn scripture into a collection of good character traits – with Jesus as an example. So far, so good. The issue is that while Jesus is an example par excellence as to how we are to live and a perfect model of such behavior – he is so much more than that.
It would be easy to see and portray Jesus as our example and miss so much more about him. Jesus executes the office of Prophet, Priest, and King. We do not want to miss that in this series. To do so would to miss the gospel.
We also need to remember that Jesus is the second person of the trinity. He is Deity. When we are looking at WWJD we will need to remember that Jesus as the God man might do something different from what we would.
Theologians talk about God’s communicable and incommunicable attributes. We will never be as God is in omnipotence or omnipresence. We are to be like him in holiness.
What does the Fruit of the Spirit have to do with pain management? We will be looking at that. I am expecting it to be very appropriate to tie in with our topic.
This is a start. More to follow. I am looking forward to seeing Jesus model the Fruit of the Spirit.