Galatians 5:19-22, Psalm 121:1, 1 John 3:24
"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 5:19-22
What does the word 'busy' bring to mind for you? Perhaps it's the thought of the frantic academic year that's whizzing past, or an absolutely blockbuster, full-to-the-brim, jam packed Christmas next month, which you're not sure you'll ever be prepared for. For many of us it's likely to be the thoughts and to-dos that are filling our minds, even as we attempt to sit and read and take some time out of the day for God.
Here's the good bit: God knows how busy we are. He really does. Even when we might feel like saying, "Oh, don't worry about me, there's bigger problems out there." God wants to recognise and meet us in our stress and tiredness.
The passage above from Galatians 5 is a wonderful reminder of what God does in us. Today, though, let's take the focus away from the 'what' and move to the 'how'.
You may have heard this before, but this is important: there's a big difference between the 'works of the flesh' in verse 19 and the 'fruits of the Spirit', which are listed in verse 22.
The moment we let God get a hold of us and loosen our own grip on our lives, is the moment we move from ergon, to karpos. That's right, I just Greeked on you. Ergon means to 'work', or 'labour' - something that's not unfamiliar even for growing fruit. Paul uses this word, however, to talk about those things that we manage to create when we choose to turn our hearts from God, in those moments of anger, impurity, or idolatry for example.
In the business of life, however, there's a great deal of joy to be taken from the karpos of the Spirit. It literally means fruit; the end result of God's Spirit at work and something we don't even have to process within ourselves.
That's right, this is not another to-do on the list of things you feel guilty about not doing. God does it for you. When life lacks any love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control, it's truly amazing how time alone with God begins to change that. This isn't self-help, this is a change of perspective - see Psalm 121:1:
'I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord
who made heaven and earth.'
The ultimate change of pace, the very best kind of time-out in a world where the clock reigns far too much in our daily lives, is a change of perspective.
When we're looking straight ahead at those stresses and worries, just like a close-up photograph, the distance is blurred out of focus. If you're looking for God, but chasing deadlines that get in the way, don't 'join-the-queue-we're-all-stressed-so-get-over-it'. Look up. You'll be looking to a God who holds everything, knows everything and loves you more than you'll ever know.
Our unlimited God will meet us in our limitations every time. Paul tells us in the back end of the Galatians verse above that, 'There is no law' against God's fruit. That's because the God who's working in you knows no bounds Himself and it just gets better. That same unlimited, all-powerful creator has made His home in your heart, for good. See 1 John 3:24, 'God lives in us because of the Spirit God gave us'. The fruits He has for you are life-changing and He cares about you too much to leave you alone.
From experience and if you already know this, here's a good reminder: More often than not, He'll show us how to change perspective and lose sight of the worries we thought were so gripping.
Life is busy, but thankfully that's even more reason to lean into the goodness of God and allow Him to work in us and for us.
Life is busy, but God is busy within us, when we allow Him to work in us with an open heart.
Life is busy, but God is good.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
View all Life Files by Matt Willoughby