Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.
I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about the reasons behind why we do things. There are many reasons and rationalities behind every action, but what is the real driving force behind our decisions? As a teacher I am forever searching out the answer to this in order to understand my students’ behavior and help guide them. As a human being, I really wish I could pinpoint reasons in order to make my life more directive.
While dealing with problems with others, it is important to look past what people say, and really look at their meaning behind what they say. From what I’ve seen, people are not usually self-aware enough to explain their actions on the spot, especially when they are 12 years old. I think back to a conversation I had years ago. I had no idea how much weight was dependent on my response to the topic. I was being tested. I listened patiently to a political rant on a more controversial topic, and I fell for it. I responded with a political argument, as if that was really what the conversation was about. From that moment on, nothing I said to that individual was worth listening too, because I had missed the heart of the issue and instead took sides with an argument that I don’t even care about. In retrospect, after seeing the results that followed the conversation, I realize that what was being communicated was not a political opinion. It wasn’t a question or an invitation to talk. It was fruit coming out from a seed of bitterness planted years before.
If I had a chance to redo that conversation, I would completely ignore the topic, and I for sure would not argue it. Instead, I hope I would point out that what was being said was simply the fruit of something in that person’s life, and it was not fruit from the Spirit of God since it was contrary to what the Bible said. Then I would challenge that person to check the actual reason behind the many opinions and actions. I guess my goal would be to try to help shine light on the actual culprit and lies that my friend was believing. Many people do not hold the insight to pinpoint their beliefs to bitterness, fear, frustration, pride, or other things. Instead they assume that anything they believe in so passionately must be blessed by God, but passion is not one of the fruit claimed by the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5. Rather passion is lumped in with the works of the flesh.
To a certain degree, a lot of our actions tend to be a performance. We are performing based off of what fruit we are growing, and we are all growing some sort of fruit in our lives, considering life is growth/change. When I have a student hiding in the corner, that is a performance based off of fruit possibly involving something with fear. When I have a student who fights me to take charge of the class, that is a performance based off of fruit possibly of pride or frustration. When I avoid large crowds and meeting new people, that is a performance based off the fruit of distrust.
Looking beyond what people do and say helps me see people as souls. So often we look at people as the enemy, yet God says in Ephesians 6:12 that we aren’t actually fighting against flesh and blood.
It is important to check the reasons behind why you are doing what you do. It is important to make sure that you are producing the fruit of the Spirit, because that is how we know He is inside us guiding and changing us.
How to help 6th graders learn this? Luke 2:52, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” He was around the age of my students when that was said about Him. They can learn from His example. He was able to be close with people while pursuing and loving God. The best way to prove God’s presence in our lives is to show His fruit. When Jesus told the disciples that it would be better to have the Spirit come than Him stay with them (John 16:7), He knew that the Spirit would give us power and make a difference in all our lives. It doesn’t matter how old you are. If the Spirit is present, then there should be fruit.