Love in Action

My friend Amy writes daily devotionals and has faithfully done so for many years. In today’s devotional, Amy spoke of the fruits of the Spirit. I guess I’ll probably turn to the Holy Trinity as my source as long as I live, since that is where my training is, but I believe that God has spoken to people in many ways throughout space and time–and continues to do so.  As I’ve reflected upon all of this, it seems to me that the fruits of the Spirit truly are universal, regardless of religious orientation or even complete rejection of spirituality. It seems to me that speaking of the fruits of the Spirit is to speak of how our actions shape not only ourselves and our lives, but the world around us in significant ways.

Let’s take a look at these fruits as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23 and see what we find in a direct translation to modern English as found in the NRSV:

… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

This is a pretty familiar list to most Christians who’ve read much of the Bible or spent much time in church. Is this simply a Christian message? I don’t think so. The fruits of the Spirit seem, to me, to reflect the maturity with which one responds to life’s challenges and embraces the driving human need to love and to make life better for others. Does everyone mature as they grow older? Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Does everyone feel or respond to that need to love and make life better? That doesn’t seem to be so, either. I do believe that it’s present in everyone when we’re young, but a combination of temperament and life choices guide us to maturity and giving and opening and blooming, or rotting away wrapped in our own misery. In a way, it seems almost a return to the innocence of childhood, when anything was possible, before people and society insisted upon teaching us that life is not only hard but, at times, brutal … and that we are helpless.

Helpless? Hardly! My friends, we are powerful to the extent that we embrace Love as the source of all that is, even to our very breath. We have the power to choose life ever-growing, or death as we rot away while still breathing hope and possibility but turn them away. Are we challenged, sometimes seemingly at every turn? You bet! Giving up and giving in to the rot–otherwise known as entropy–would oftentimes be the easier choice, but who wants to live like that?

What would be the opposite of the fruits of the Spirit/Love/maturity? Are they characteristics we’d choose to bear if we considered them? Is this how we’d like to be remembered when we’re gone? Do we truly want to live without protest in a world where this has become the norm?

  • not only hate, but apathy and indifference to others and to self
  • agony, regardless of our circumstances
  • strife neverending
  • an immediacy that means having no history and no future
  • meanness, destructiveness
  • selfish grasping with no satisfaction
  • cheating, being unpredictably untrustworthy
  • roughness with no regard for the fragility of life
  • being controlled by, abdicating responsibility to … other people, society, and institutions

Truthfully, I’ve met very few people, if any, who fulfill either list consistently, in entirety. We’re all on this journey together. Knowing where our choices are taking us is, I think, an important consideration with each step we take. It’s easy to make excuses, and not so easy to change sometimes, but in my “mussings” today …

I choose Love in an indifferent world. I choose Joy in the midst of pain. I choose Peace while the storm rages about me. I choose Patience while history is ignored and the future seems dim. I choose Kindness in the face of blaming the victim. I choose Generosity while corporations try to patent life for profit. I choose Gentleness in a dog-eat-dog culture. I choose to accept the responsibility of Self-Control over the chaos of media and cultural controls.

I choose to live MY life in the face of my own personal history and an unknowable future, believing with all of my heart that I am changing the world, one way or the other, one choice at a time. I believe that this truly is free will. I choose to be thankful in the face of adversity.

Love to all,

Deborah

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