Galatians 5- Freedom in Christ, and Life by the Spirit
‘The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.’ Galatians 5:6
If I were asked which bible chapter encompasses the entire book in a nutshell, I think it’s safe to say that I would name Galatians 5. There are a wide variety of topics covered in this chapter, so much spanning from freedom, life, the Fruit of the Spirit, and instructions on controlling our immorality and transgressions. The first section of the chapter addresses freedom in Christ – the notion that we were only set free because of Christ’s sacrifice in our name. Verse 6 states that ‘the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.’ Just as Jesus loved unconditionally – managing to continue to love and bless those whom tortured, scorned and mocked him, we are to do the same. We are not only to love our friends, but to love our enemies as well. Moreover, love and faith are interlinked in our experiences. If we love someone, we have faith in them, and vice versa. Admittedly, it is sometimes difficult to love someone if they have wronged us or hurt us, whether it be through betrayal, unfaithfulness, slander or lying. The list goes on and on. But the Bible encourages us to keep loving those people, and not only to love them – but to have faith that they will change, that they will grow into better people. Faith is undying confidence or trust in a person or religion.
Life by the Spirit
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. – Galatians 5:13-15
I have certainly struggled with feelings of hatred, animosity and strong dislike towards certain individuals. Its easy to feel like the world is out to get us, and that certain people purposely challenge and agitate us. I also admit that I’m not the best at forgiving, in fact – i’ve been guilty of holding a few grudges. Yet the bible says to “Love your neighbour as thyself,” and expressly commands us not to ‘bite and devour each other,’ or else it will end in destruction. We are to walk by the Spirit, and not to give in to such feelings. Jesus is the perfect example of God’s forgiveness – though we pulled away from God, alienated him and gave into our own selfish desires, he sent his most prized possession – his only son – to the Earth to restore our lives and remove the chaos, and to bridge the gap between us and God. When I think of this I am inspired to forgive and to forget, to let things go, and not do to others as they do to you.
Next, Paul addresses the Fruit of the Spirit – those virtues and values that we, as Christians, should live by. They are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law. These are godly qualities which we should all strive towards demonstrating and exercising. Without these things we will give in to evil. But, if we carry the Fruit of the Spirit around in our hearts, we will live in step with the Spirit and in alignment with God. I struggle with each and every one if these values – it’s not easy to love when you’ve been hurt, it’s hard to be joyful all the time, especially when horrible events happen. Finding peace is difficult when there are so many things troubling us every day, whether at school, work, or at home. Patience is a virtue which requires extensive restraint and self control. Kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness require remarkable strength, understanding, and empathy. But we who belong to Jesus Christ have been born anew without the desires and passions of the flesh, and as long as we truthfully and sincerely ask God for help in abiding with the Fruit of the Spirit, he will always be there to guide us.