Second Sunday after Pentecost – June 3, 2018
Galatians 5:13-26 and 1 John 4:7-11
Having celebrated the season of the Holy Spirit, during Pentecost, I thought it might be great to pause with a mini-series about the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is however a rather elusive thing to live out these nine fruit. We never fully get to live with those fruit.
This is due to the fact that we have many choices to make throughout our lives. These day-to-day choices can impact our lives. It becomes an impact not only in that moment but more importantly in the long term. Those of us that have been around for a while know the consequences of the choices we’ve made in our lives.
For example, if I got hooked onto smoking when I was seventeen, it’s a choice I’ve made even if I was ill-equipped at that time. The consequences may follow later, even if I haven’t smoked for more than 30 years by now.
It’s not surprising that most young people are not really aware of the cause and effect of the daily decisions they make. The stage of life between childhood and adulthood has to be the hardest one we will ever face. We are offered such opportunities at this stage but yet the obstacles and challenges are by far the toughest we will ever face. Why? Because at that stage of life we aren’t even aware that we have choices. We feel helpless and sometimes quite hopeless because we are not mature enough yet to know that there are lights at the end of very dark tunnels. We feel stuck in home with lives that are suffocating and sometimes very poor examples of what life can really offer us beyond what we can see right now. We struggle to be accepted by our friends. We have pain with wanting to look good to others. We want so desperately to fit in so that sometimes the choices made are in total contradiction of what we really want to do or experience.
Yet, as young people, the choices made can be life changing. So the most vunerable are by far the least prepared to deal with life’s challenges.
We all struggle with life’s challenges. But at some point in our lives we all must face the fact that we control our own behaviours and the choices we make.
This is what Paul is up to by sharing his letter to the Galatians. He knows very well how too much head-knowledge doesn’t help at all if we don’t apply it in our lives. He was telling the folks of Galatia that we aren’t saved by our deeds, but by God’s grace. This is why, when he comes to chapter 5, verse 13, he switches gears and points out that God’s Holy Spirit makes all the difference. We don’t just relax and forget the law of God, saying that grace saves us anyhow. There is an ethical part to it. We do have a responsibility. The Holy Spirit helps us in this. We just celebrated Pentecost, the season of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Now we too can pause at the notion of how we live our lives, as it can make all the difference.
There’s a story about an ancient and wise chief who was speaking to his young grandson. He told his grandson that he had a white dog and a black dog who live inside him that are constantly fighting and at war with each other. His grandson was shocked to hear this. He asked his grandfather, “which dog wins the fight, grandfather?”. “The dog I feed, my son”. The white dog represented the goodness in his heart and soul. The black dog represented his ego, his dark nature, the side that wants to hurt and retaliate.
We all have a white dog and black dog that lives inside ourselves. They are constantly at war to win our approval. Our approval shows up in the actions we take, the words we say, and what we allow to enter our hearts and minds. Which dog do you choose to feed today?
What a tough choice to make!
The good news of today’s passage from Galatians is that God’s Holy Spirit leads us toward the more beneficial choices. Oh yes, that doesn’t prevent us from feeding the black dog.
However, when we feed the white dog, Paul lists nine different “fruit of the Holy Spirit.” How about taking note at how desirable they are? The first three are love, joy and peace. How great it is to be equipped with these three fruits of the Holy Spirit. Love, joy and peace. Next time we will look into these three, bearing in mind how feeding the black dog brings us closer to destroying ourselves. We certainly don’t want that, do we? But feeding the white dog, leads us toward a fulfilled life in Jesus Christ.
What type of life does God desire for us? As we continue this series, we will explore this life that God has created us for.
Copyright 2018 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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