Vol 9 No. 36 Some Spiritual Patterns

Dear Folks,

As I begin, let me share my own spiritual journey these days. I have been teaching from Galatians 5:22-26, the Fruit of the Spirit. I am familiar enough in myself and around us of evidence of the Fruit of the Flesh… I find the Fruit of the Spirit much more of a challenge. It is easier, for me at least, to be “against” evil than to be “for” good.  There is a story about the American President Calvin Coolidge who returned from church one day to have his wife, Grace, ask him what the sermon was about. He said the minister spoke about sin. “What did the minister say?” Grace asked. Coolidge replied, “He was against it.” What a relief. Many Christians find it easier to be against sin rather than for something; it is a non-reflective response. I’m referring here to our general spirituality, I am referring to my own spirituality and the journey I experienced as a younger Christian.

As I write these newsletters week in and week out, I am well aware that by far the majority of you have a deeper and more mature walk with God than I do. I write today only to share some of my own patterns not because I have anything that might be worth imitating, but because I do have a sense that it might be an encouragement. Here’s what I want to say. Each day I recall, read or recite the following:

  • The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil. [For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.]


  • The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
The third day he rose again from the dead:
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
I believe in the Holy Ghost:
I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
The forgiveness of sins:
The resurrection of the body:
And the life everlasting. Amen.

  • Galatians 5:22-23, The Fruit of the Spirit, as follows:
    • Love
    • Joy
    • Peace
    • Patience
    • Kindness
    • Generosity
    • Faithfulness
    • Gentleness
    • Self-control

For context, it is interesting to see Galatians 5:16-26 in their entirety. Here they are in the New Revised Standard Version:

The Works of the Flesh

16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy,drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The Fruit of the Spirit

22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.

Here it is in Eugene Peterson’s The Message:

19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

25-26 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

Thanks for reading. These three pieces of scripture and Christian tradition are my precursor for regular reading and prayer. I find it interesting that reading the Fruit of the Spirit has quite a dramatic effect on my attitudes and behaviors. I would love to hear about any other patterns out there.



In Christ,