Galatians 5:14-23 (NIV)
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. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
“And the like.” Or “and things like these” in the ESV. Or “And such like” in the ASV. It’s pretty obvious that the list is a list of characteristics we get when we aren’t with Him and instead are with ourselves.
I love how the Message puts it: “19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.”
Sounds like the world today. And yesterday. I’m betting forever – unless…. It sure sounds like a lot of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Agnostics, Atheists, instert here I know. The words are pointed at us like a Howitzer that’s just fired its round. There’s just one way out, and it aint like the Allman Brothers sing about.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (tolerance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
So – Love or loveless?
Ugly parodies of community or community?
Divided homes and lives or peace?
Repetitive, cheap sex, a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage, frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness or joy and peace?
Wants and small-minded pursuits or faithfulness?
I could go on with “and the like”, or “and things like these” but I hope you get the picture as it is. When one reality is so perfectly described, it makes sense to give credence to the wisdom of the speaker and at least listen with an intent to learn.
Listen to these words from Galatians in the Message: “22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. 23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.”
How about if we dedicate our lives so that this is the “And the like”, and not the first examples?