But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22–23
In February 2020, as the COVID-19 crisis was just beginning, a newspaper columnist’s concerns struck me. Would we willingly self-isolate, she wondered, changing our work, travel, and shopping habits so others wouldn’t get sick? “This isn’t just a test of clinical resources,” she wrote, “but of our willingness to put ourselves out for others.” Suddenly, the need for virtue was front-page news.
It can be hard to consider others’ needs while we’re anxious about our own. Thankfully, we’re not left with willpower alone to meet the need. We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us love to replace our indifference, joy to counter sadness, peace to replace our anxiety, forbearance (patience) to push out our impulsiveness, kindness to care about others, goodness to see to their needs, faithfulness to keep our promises, gentleness instead of harshness, and self-control to lift us beyond self-centeredness (Galatians 5:22–23). While we won’t be perfect at all of this, we’re called to seek the Spirit’s gifts of virtue regularly (Ephesians 5:18).
Author Richard Foster once described holiness as the ability to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. And such holiness is needed every day, not just in a pandemic. Do we have the capacity to make sacrifices for the sake of others? Holy Spirit, fill us with the power to do what needs to be done.
When have you made a sacrifice for the sake of others? What needs around you call for the Holy Spirit’s fruit today?
Holy Spirit, fill me afresh today and make me a person of virtue.
The book of Galatians has been rightly referred to as a “short and fiery” work. Paul’s tone and word choices match the seriousness of the error that confronted the believers in Jesus in Galatia (a region in Asia Minor where Paul preached and established churches). What needed correction? False teachers were preaching a false gospel that required adhering to the demands of the law of Moses in addition to faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.
Not only are we justified—made right with God—by faith in Christ alone (Galatians 2:15–21), but believers in Christ grow to be like Him (sanctification) by the same means—by faith apart from keeping the law (5:1–11). Through God’s Spirit, believers are empowered for godly living, including loving one’s neighbor as oneself (vv. 13–26).