Sandwiched Between Love and Peace
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
Have you ever really stopped to think about this list of fruit? My lists can be kind of random- usually starting with the first thing that pops into my mind, or the first thing that is needed from the grocery store, or the chore that needs the most attention, or more likely the easiest task to finish. Sometimes my lists are chronological, or date oriented, or less often they might reflect my true list of priorities.
When I stop and look at Paul’s list of fruit, joy is sandwiched between love and peace. It is second on the list. Behind love, but in front of peace. I am not a Greek scholar, but for today I am going to take Paul’s list at face value and say joy follows love and precedes peace. Joy doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It needs love and peace surrounding it.
In the prior verses, Paul laid out the rotten fruit that is grown naturally in our lives. Yucky fruit. Fruit like envy, drunkenness, divisions, dissensions, strife, jealousy, and others. No one wants that fruit. But, Paul doesn’t leave it there. He follows that list with the list of fruit we want. Good fruit. Healthy fruit. Delicious fruit. And he starts with love.
Good fruit has to start with love. God’s love for us and our love for him. We can’t have good fruit in our lives without a relationship with Jesus (vs. 24-25). We can’t experience the next fruit on the list, joy, until we have love. Joy is grounded in God’s love for us and our confidence in that love. If I am firmly planted in God’s love, I can filter the stresses of life through that truth and be confident it’s all going to be okay in the end. That confidence frees me to enjoy each day God has given me and I can smile on the inside. If I am confident that my God’s got me and all my “stuff” under control, I experience the next fruit, peace. When my soul is content and confident in God’s goodness, my soul can be at peace.
Fruit. Sometimes it yucky and rotten, but sometimes its ripe, fresh and amazing. So, let’s prune our trees of the rotten fruit growing there and start grafting God’s good fruit into our lives. First on the list, love. Followed closely by joy.
Things to ponder: What is one thing you can do today to nurture your love for God? What is one rotten fruit you need to ask God to prune from your life? Take a moment and reflect on your day. Find one touch you experienced from God and let that moment of love fill your heart with joy. Then rest in it, if only for a few minutes.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.