Summary: About God growing His fruit in our lives.
The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
June 30, 2013
St. Andrew’s Church
The Rev. M. Anthony Seel, Jr.
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
We Americans love to celebrate Independence Day. Thomas Jefferson’s declaration that every person has an “inalienable right” to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” still sounds sweet to our freedom-loving ears.
Despite the imperfections of our political system, we still enjoy tremendous economic freedom, political freedom, and personal freedom. Our second lesson helps us to understand our freedom in a godly way. The real test of freedom is how we use it.
The Apostle Paul gives us two opposite ways of using freedom. One way is destructive and the other way is constructive. Paul labels destructive uses “works of the flesh,” and constructive uses “the fruit of the Spirit.” Paul writes,
vv. 19-21 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.
Paul writes about freedom from the perspective of human slavery to sin. God gives us all free will to indulge ourselves, if we wish, in destructive uses of our freedom. One problem for us is that the enemy of God doesn’t play by the same rules. Sin has a way of enslaving us whether it’s through addiction or plain desire.
In Addiction & Grace, psychiatrist Gerald May says,
After twenty years of listening to the yearnings of people’s hearts,
I am convinced that all human beings have an inborn desire for
God. Whether we are consciously religious or not, this desire is
our deepest longing and our most precious treasure. It gives us
meaning. Some of us have repressed this desire, burying it
beneath so many other interests that we are completely unaware
of it. Or we may experience it in different ways – as a longing for
wholeness, completion, or fulfillment. Regardless of how we
describe it, it is a longing for love. It is a hunger to love, to be
loved, and to move closer to the Source of love. This yearning is
the essence of the human spirit; it is the origin of our highest
hopes and most noble dreams.
God nourishes this desire, drawing us toward fulfillment of the two
great commandments: “Though shall love thy God will all thy heart,
and thy neighbor as thyself. If we could claim our longing for love
as the true treasure of our hearts, we would, with God’s grace, be
able to live these commandments.” p. 1
May adds this thought:
But something gets in the way. Not only are we unable to fulfill the
commandment; we often even ignore our desire to do so. The
longing at the center of our hearts repeatedly disappears from our
awareness, and its energy is usurped by forces that are not at all
loving. Our desires are captured, and we give ourselves to things
that, in our deepest honesty, we really do not want… pp. 1-2
In Romans, chapter 7, Paul writes
vv. 15, 18 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want… For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
We all know what Dr. May and the Apostle Paul are talking about. This is the human condition. We all know that the vices that Paul lists in Galatians, chapter 5 are bad for us, but every one of us is drawn to one or more of them.
Peter Sagal, host of the National Public Radio show, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” says
“Best (period). Software (period). Ever (period).”
New York Times’ columnist Peggy Orenstein says “I am still surprised by the relief that floods over me whenever I bind myself from going online.”
Nick Hornby, author of About a Boy and High Fidelity calls it “Absolutely brilliant.”
They’re all talking about a $10 application that has over 300,000 users. The app is called Freedom and it is a productivity tool that locks a user off the internet for a predetermined amount of time. That time period can be a few minutes or up to eight hours.
I’m intrigued by the language used to describe it, like Peggy Orenstein talking about binding herself “from going online.”
Or Vanessa Romo, who delivered an essay on NPR’s “All Things Considered” titled “Stop Me Before I Facebook Again.”
Or Dale Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, who says “This program called Freedom… saves you from the internet.”
Do you hear the kind of language these people are using? Orenstein talks about having to bind herself from using the internet. Romo pleads for help: “Stop me” from Facebooking. Eggers needs saving from the internet.