Daily Reflections

Galatians 5:18-25

We are called to freedom, but what kind of freedom? For Paul the whole of the Law can be summarized in the command to love our neighbour. It is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit given to us in baptism, who will guide us away from selfishness to self-giving love. It is the Spirit who will give us life.

In today’s passage Paul lists behaviours which are contrary to the Spirit, actions which bar the way to the kingdom of God. And this list is hardly a complete list of the human potential for sin. Paul goes on to list the ‘fruits of the Holy Spirit’: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

In freeing us from the Law, the Spirit of Jesus does not free us from the call to live a good life. But the Spirit enables us to live it, in a way that the Law could never do. It is essential that we maintain our commitment to the life of the Spirit, not falling back to the old ways.

The letter to the Galatians, as we have seen, is a fiery letter. Paul does not pull his punches. His anger is aroused by the possibility that those who have received the new life could throw it away, losing the very greatest gift of God in Jesus Christ.

Those who are leading the Galatians astray want to avoid persecution for the cross of Christ. Christians of today can also struggle to remain faithful, especially in the face of suffering. In this month when we remember missionaries in our prayers, it is well to recall what the first Christians put themselves through in order to establish the Good News, and how this is being paralleled in a dramatic way every day in our own times.

Towards the end of the letter Paul writes in his own hand and in large letters: ‘But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation’ (vv. 14-15).

‘Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, led back to the Kingdom of heaven and adopted as children, given confidence to call God “Father” and to share in Christ’s grace, called children of light and given a share in eternal glory.’ (St Basil)

Galatians 5:18-25
Psalm 1:1-4, 6  •  Luke 11:42-46

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