If we want to grab media attention, all it takes is an extreme proclamation of our gifts, abilities and intense challenges against all who oppose us. Tension rivets attention. As we move toward another presidential election, this “soap opera” drama with its intrigue, boasting, accusations, and rebuttals becomes the latest breaking news. But if we really are citizens of the Heavenly Jerusalem as the Apostle Paul pointed out earlier in his letter to the Galatians (Gal. 4:26), then we are free to allow the Spirit to zip our lips when it comes to boasting about how gifted and successful we are.
It’s true that the actions of the sin nature with all their juicy stories of immorality, idolatry, drugs, quarreling, and wild parties grab attention in the present, but we need to remember that God’s kingdom, built on his Son’s sacrificial love and the fruit his Spirit, generates winning in the end.
The Apostle Paul concludes his discussion of the internal wrestling match we face between the actions of our sin nature and the fruit the Spirit is seeking to generate with a strong imperative. Since we received the gift of life by the Spirit, it only makes sense to daily crucify our old, selfish desires and keep in step with him.
“Now the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Obviously, no laws are needed against these qualities. And those who belong to the Messiah, Jesus, have crucified the sin nature together with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let’s keep in step with the Spirit. Don’t be pouring out empty self-glorification, provoking and envying one another.” Galatians 5:23-26
In a culture that constantly entertains itself with the drama of provocation, pride, and the craving for power, we have the opportunity of allowing Jesus’ Spirit to help others to catch a glimpse of what God’s Kingdom, the Kingdom that prevails, is actually like. But if we, like the Galatian believers, start challenging and provoking one another, we rob unbelievers of the opportunity to catch a glimpse of true glory and what will one day rivet all of our attention and praise.
LORD, when I feel that surge inside when someone challenges me and I feel that they are not appreciating my gifts and abilities, help me remember how empty hearted my selfish pride is. Help me to keep in step today with your Spirit so that I can be gentle, kind, and considerate of others. Keep me from trying to grab attention for myself, but instead give you all the praise.
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