I am no botanist. I cannot look at a tree from a reasonable distance and tell the difference between an elm and an oak … a sweet gum and a sycamore. They all simply can be described as “tree” in my book. While this may be technically accurate, it does not tell the whole story.
Even my untrained eye, however, can differentiate certain trees as I get closer. I identify a sweet gum tree by looking at the God-forsaken prickly cones it produces. I can tell something is an oak if I see an acorn. And don’t even get me started about apple trees (or any fruit tree for that matter) … when the fruit is on the vine, the tree reveals its true colors.
None of us are God. None of us see the inside of people’s souls. We do not know what is fully going on inside a person from a distance. Therefore, we cannot tell what someone really believes and who is their ultimate authority, just by looking at their outside. After all, people of all different belief systems have different skin colors, hair colors, heights, weights, and speak different languages. From a distance, we all just look like “people.” While this is technically accurate, it does not tell the whole story.
Even to our non-divine eyes, however, we can differentiate between people the closer we get. Who people really are, who they really follow, and what they ultimately believe becomes evident the closer we get to someone. And … for the Christian who is trusting in the Holy Spirit and living in obedience following Jesus, there is a definite difference in the appearance of their life.
At least there should be.
That is the argument Paul makes in Galatians 5:19-26. Most people live for people … more accurately, most people live for themselves … but not the people who are following Jesus Christ and empowered by His Spirit. If we are following Him, we are NOT living for ourselves, but we are living our lives for Christ AND AS A RESULT, living our lives in service to others.
If we are following Jesus, and dependent upon the Spirit, our lives will produce certain “fruits” that will nourish and bless those around us. And in so doing they will reveal who we really follow.
Join us this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church as we wrap up our “New Power” sermon series by looking at the end of Galatians 5 in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 worship services (or online in the stream – beginning at 9:45 CDT on August 29 at this link). Hope to see you there as we reflect on these crucial verses together.