October 30, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Galatians 5)

Submitted by Ahmi K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Galatians 5:19-26 (ESV)

19 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.

Galatians 5:19-25

  • Identify the “works of the flesh” that reside within my heart or manifest in my life.  What do I need to do to “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires”?  

In order to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires, I have to be prepared to do the painful thing necessary to deal with the flesh and its passions and desires. Often, we convince ourselves that the problem is not so bad which means we don’t need to take it that seriously or take drastic measures. But works of the flesh are deceptively difficult to control and overcome. In fact, these are the very things which can lead people away from inheriting the kingdom of God. So, the first thing to do is to admit that these works of the flesh require crucifying on my end. I need to get outside help. There is no way I can do it on my own.

Then, we need to humble ourselves and listen to the counsel of others who can help us crucify these desires and the works of the flesh. When it comes to relational and character issues of strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, it takes the persistent efforts of regularly dealing with it such as having others point it out in a loving way, admitting to the truth, humbling ourselves to the reality, asking forgiveness to people when necessary, and repenting before God. When it’s an issue of rivalry, jealousy, enmity or envy, it takes dying to self by doing acts of kindness or praying prayers of blessings for the very people you feel these things against.

We inherently want to fuel the passions and desires of the flesh by indulging in them, holding onto them a little longer. But through self-denial, a crucifying of selfish desires, we can learn to cultivate Godliness.

  • Reflect on the fruit of the Spirit listed in this passage, and consider the process by which these have grown in your life since you first became Christian.  Which fruit of the spirit needs to grow more in your life today?  How can you nurture growth of the fruit of the spirit in your life?

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.

For me, the fruit of the Spirit has grown through hard steps of obedience to go against my selfish ways, ministering to others and through God’s Word. I’ve learned love when I took care of other people, heard their issues, and tried to help them through their issues. I’ve learned joy that is not dependent on circumstances by going to God’s Word and the hymns, trusting in His promises. I’ve learned patience only by being encouraged to try again and again, not to despair and give up. I would never have learned to cultivate these characteristics on my own. Rather, I would have been like the greater majority of the population who grow more isolated as they grow older, more self-centered, less loving, less joyful, more impatient, more childish and irritable and demanding. Only through daily serving Him in the church, in ministry, has God rescued me from that fate.

There is no magic – it’s through faithfully obeying, serving, and loving others in the Lord. That has become my safeguard, my hedge of protection from the works of the flesh.

Submitted by Jacob C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Galatians 5:19-25

Identify the “works of the flesh” that reside within my heart or manifest in my life.  What do I need to do to “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires”?  

I can identify with almost all of the “works of the flesh,” but in particular, “rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy.” In this chapter, Apostle Paul warns the Galatians against biting and devouring one another (v. 15), exhorting them to instead use their freedom to serve one another in love (v. 12). Apostle Paul also exhorts the Galatians not to become conceited, provoking one another and envying one another (v. 26). This suggests that rivalries, dissensions, divisions, and envy were a problem for the Galatians. As I said, this is something I can identify with, not necessarily open hostility towards others, but comparing myself to others in my own heart. I want to see how I am measure up against others, whether it’s in ministry, career, or life in general.  Am I in a comparable position in my career? Does my life seem under control compared to others? These are the questions that can cycle in my heart, and which lead rivalry. Sadly, the people I am most likely to compare myself against are my peers and those close in age. So it may not be open rivalry, but in my heart, I feel envious towards their successes, and I believe this is what leads eventually to dissensions and divisions in the church. Thankfully, as I get older, I think I’m learning to appreciate my peers a lot more. These are the brothers that God has placed in my life so that we may be a mutual source of strength and encouragement. In every area of life, there are peers who are more successful than I am, and that’s not something that bothers me as much as it did when we were younger. I think this is a result mostly of us being together at our church and serving in ministry for the past 12 years, and I think that is why Apostle Paul exhorts the Galatians to fight against the flesh through walking by the Spirit (v. 16). As we focus on building up the community and loving others, our character gets shaped in the process. That has been my experience. Through being a part of our community, I have experienced my heart changing to value my peers and others, so I think the main way I can crucify the flesh is by focusing my attention on the building up our community. When I am focused on serving others and our church, my attention is turned away from the comparisons going on in my heart. I’m thankful for our new church building at Harbor Bay and the many concrete opportunities it provides for serving.

  • Reflect on the fruit of the Spirit listed in this passage, and consider the process by which these have grown in your life since you first became Christian.  Which fruit of the spirit needs to grow more in your life today?  How can you nurture growth of the fruit of the spirit in your life?

As I said above, I think the process by which the fruit of the Spirit has grown in my life is by taking my attention away from myself and focusing it on building up the community and serving others. The commentary says Apostle Paul is describing the qualities of a community produced by the Spirit, so it makes sense that focusing on the community would be one way for my character to grow, and I am thankful that I am part of a church where I have so many opportunities to minister to others. Left to myself, I probably would not have grown much or had much motivation to grow. But as I tried to love people, to bring them to Christ and then to raise them up, I experienced myself being stretched to be more loving, patient, kind, and these are the fruits that I still need to grow in my life. As life places more and more demands on my time and energy, I think it’s easy for me to get irritated and impatient with people, whether it’s my family, my brothers and sisters in Christ, or the people we are ministering to. I am by nature self-centered and non-relational, so as life gets busier, I will naturally isolate myself and focus on things that I need to get done, viewing people as interruptions to my schedule. I need to remind myself constantly that it is through people that God has shaped me and will continue to shape me, and I need to be committed towards putting others before myself. Concretely, this means being okay with interruptions and volunteering when there are opportunities to serve others. Again, I’m thankful to be part of our church where there are so many opportunities to grow in this way.

Personal Prayer

Dear God, thank you for the ways you have been shaping me through the people in my life all these years. I know that I would never have changed on my own were it not for your intervention, and I would be totally miserable in the life I selfishly built for myself. Please forgive me for the ways I still compare myself to others, focusing on what I lack and allowing my heart to be envious. Please help me to crucify my envy by instead focusing my time and energy on serving others and building up the community you have placed me in. Thank you for the people in my life whom I am called to serve, and please stretch my heart to embrace the opportunities I have to love them in concrete ways. Please continue to shape my character so that I can be someone who is a source of encouragement to others as well.

Submitted by Joy X. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Galatians 5:19-25

  • Identify the “works of the flesh” that reside within my heart or manifest in my life.  What do I need to do to “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires”? 

Though I have been forgiven, saved and given a new life, a new slate as a Christian, it is also true that my struggle against my sinful nature continues.  Day to day, I may experience some victories in different areas of my life, but at the same time I recognize the stubborn sins that keep coming back to attack me, remind me of the guilt and shame, and enslave me to make me powerless as Christian.  One of the ways that the works of the flesh that still resides within my heart is through idolatry of self-sufficiency. Though I know that God is my provider and that I have experienced timely provision from God and through His people again and again and I have learned that God is trustworthy, it has been a constant struggle for me to really hold onto what is truth instead of trusting my own instinct that I have provide for myself.  When I give into such orphan mentality, I become greedy and stingy with what I have, become possessive, and do not experience the richness of God’s love in my life and in our community.  As in v.21, with this kind of divided mind, we cannot inherit of the kingdom of God.

I may never be able to say with confidence that I will never be tempted in the same way and that I will never fail in the same way, but what is more important is surrendering to God daily, coming back to the Cross each time I recognize my sins.  Instead of sweeping my sins under the rug, hoping that no one would find out and living a compartmentalized life without true relationship with God and very shallow understanding of the gospel, I have been learning to bring out the “works of the flesh” into the light by confessing and repenting.  The passions and desires of the works of the flesh only increase, and we become more and more enslaved when it is remain in the darkness.  In order to fight against and really “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires,” I need to humble myself and confess each time what is really going on in my heart and go back to the Cross where I can see how Jesus died for my sins so that I no longer have to be enslaved by these things.  I need to recognize how broken and desperate I am that there is no way that I can save myself but turning to God.  And at the same time I need to remind myself that I can never outrun God’s mercy and grace that He will forgive me whenever I turn to Him in confession and repentance because Jesus has paid for my sin with His life.

  • Reflect on the fruit of the Spirit listed in this passage, and consider the process by which these have grown in your life since you first became Christian.  Which fruit of the spirit needs to grow more in your life today?  How can you nurture growth of the fruit of the spirit in your life?

According to the commentary, the fruit of the spirit represents a community rather than an individual.  And it is true that I have been learning much of the fruit of the Spirit through the community that I am part of.  Through learning the Scripture and God’s characters, witnessing how the Scripture transforming lives, how people taking the commands in the Bible seriously, how people strive to love one another, I have been learning and trying to emulate what I have learned and witnessed.  There is no short cut in taking on these Christian virtues, going back to the word of God, learning and being familiarized with God’s character through the Scripture and struggle to take on the His characters.  And through serving and loving others as it is written in Gal 5:13, we can really embrace our call to be God’s people and experience these fruit of the Spirit in our community.  One way that I want to grow and be stretched is love.  Through Elderly Care Ministry, I have been learning what it means to just give and to love without expecting to receive anything in return.  We have been experiencing many salvation decisions at our nursing homes this year, but week to week, often it is hard to tell whether the residents are paying attention during our service and whether they understand the message let alone responding to the message by accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.  My doubts and impatience show how much I am so used to quick immediate results and gratification.  But God has been really patient with me with His relentless love and pursuit over the years, and also my leaders and other sisters in Christ have been so patient and persevering with me over the years.  Over the years, as I get older, my gratitude for God’s patient love and people in my life have been growing much more.  And I am also committing to really take on love, patience, and gentleness as I have been shown.

Personal Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Lord for your relentless love that saved me and redeemed me and continues to renew my heart even now.  Even though my heart gets cluttered with these works of the flesh so often, you have been patient with me and your patience indeed has been leading me to repentance.  Father, thank you for placing many people in my life that I can turn to as examples of those who are bearing the fruit of the Spirit.  I feel so undeserved to be called to live for such lofty goals in my life when I know that there really is nothing good in me.  Lord, please help me and give me enough strength daily to fight against my idols and sinful desires and to desire to cultivate these fruit of the spirit.  Please remove the dimness in my spirit so that I can see clearly how the ongoing struggles against my flesh to live for you is worthwhile more than anything no matter how difficult it may become in light of the Cross.

In Jesus name, Amen.

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