In the book of Galatians (chapter 5), Paul tells us that our desires are sometimes in conflict with the Spirit and the Spirit is in conflict with our sinful nature. He has a big list of things that are considered sinful. I don’t think this was ever intended to be an exhaustive list, or one that we were to post on our wall as a command to avoid. I suspect what he was saying was more like, here’s a few things that we do that just proves that we have a tendency to live independently of God – and that’s not in keeping with our spiritual nature.
He goes on to talk about the fruit of the Spirit in the same chapter – and we understand these to be characteristics that act as a reflection of God in our lives that are observable by others. But just like the former list isn’t exhaustive and does not solve our problems with living independently of God if we can avoid that list of naughty, the latter list isn’t one we can acquire simply through wishing it so. Nor was it intended, I believe, to be exhaustive either.
I think what Paul IS saying is that we need to care for one another as best we can, in the way we can, as often as we can. Not because we’re afraid we aren’t going to get to check off our Spiritual fruit list for the day if we don’t treat another with kindness!
This caring and kindness is simply who we are made to be – whether we know it or not.
When I was trying to learn the rules of SpikeBall (it’s way harder than it sounds), I was so busy focusing on the rules I’d forget to hit the ball! Guidelines and rules can help point us in the right direction, but nothing is as valuable as practice practice practice.
So today – practice kindness. See how it goes!