Daily Dose, June 29 – Galatians 5

            For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love. You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? Such persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. I am confident about you in the Lord that you will not think otherwise. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty. But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offence of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves! For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 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. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5) Have you ever received a gift that was perfectly suited to you - your wants, your needs, your interests - and then turned around and rejected the gift? I hope not. One way to read Galatians is to consider whether we are doing the same thing in a spiritual context. If we can be brought into restored, forgiven relationship with God through faith in Christ, then why would we reject that gift in favor of something that isn’t as perfectly designed to meet our deepest needs. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to simply receive the gift. We can receive God’s gift with open hearts and open souls. We don’t have to remind God that we don’t feel deserving of the gift; God already knows that. We don’t have to feel guilty for the gift; God gave us Christ by his free choice. For freedom Christ has set us free. We are free to stand tall as forgiven and cherished children of God. We are free to let Christ move through us and to let the Holy Spirit lead us. We are freed from the guilt that can come from the law - and our knowledge of our disobedience to it. We like lists and rules - they’re more concrete, and we can pat ourselves on the back after we’ve succeeded. But who does this point to? US! And this is opposite from the aim of God through Christ. When we learn to really embrace the freedom offered through Christ, we learn that it always means less focus on us and more focus on him. Freedom means being led by the Spirit of God. Freedom means not being enslaved to the urges of the flesh. Freedom involves giving evidence to the fruit of the Spirit. Imagine what the world - YOUR world - would look like if, each day, you felt truly free to be led by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control! Rev. Brad Greene