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Galatians 5 - Fruits of the Spirit

Galatians 5 — Fruit of the Spirit

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Hi Friends —

A few weeks ago I memorized what are known as the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-discipline. I spent the evening thinking about what each meant to me and how they are related. So I spent a few hours with them.

And I have discovered that they come to mind at unexpected moments. They come to mind while driving, while dozing off to sleep, while swimming and showering, while waiting in line. I find myself momentarily reliving times when I have been “patient, kind and loving too” and also times when I could have done better.

When that happens, I find myself raised up into a higher state of mind and an awareness of the values I have associated with them. Something shifts when this happens. It’s subtle, and I don’t mean to overplay it, but I have come to sense these nine words are in some way special. So thought the Apostle Paul, who listed them in the final chapter of his Letter to the Galatians. He said,

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.

I recommend that you take a few minutes and commit the nine terms to memory. Take a few minutes more to formulate their meaning to you and to recall moments of their expression in your life. That is sufficient for today. I am confident that if you do this then sometime in the next few days you will come back to this message. Here’s why:

In modern terms, these nine words for the Fruit of the Spirit are positive emotions. Positive emotions, like all emotions, are triggers — an internal event that switches on or off something in our thinking process. I’m saying that, as triggers or switches, these nine terms have actual power to influence our state of mind, and thereby our experience of life. My bet is that you’ll come back after a few days of allowing these words to do their work in your soul.

That was certainly true for me. So I found myself doing a little research on how this Bible passage has been interpreted throughout Christian history. Most commentators say that the Fruit of the Spirit is a sign or outcome of the work of Spirit within a human being. Bill Moyers once asked Huston Smith how can we know that the Spirit we are listening to is the Holy Spirit and not an evil spirit. Without missing a beat, Smith replied that we will know the Spirit by the fruit they bring forth with us.

So, okay that sounds good. But that answer isn’t really sufficient for we who are Metaphysical Christians. Is that Spirit which is operating within us a transcendent Holy Spirit or is it the Spirit of the Metaphysical Trinity of Man, as in Spirit, Soul, Body? For most of Christianity, the answer is unclear. Metaphysical Christians have no difficulty accepting God as an external transcendent reality; but our distinctive theological understanding leads us to placing both Christ and the Holy Spirit within the human being. Surprisingly, Saint John Chrysostom, an early Church father and saint in the Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches, believed it was the inner Spirit at work. He wrote,

“For if the statement mentions the flesh and the Spirit, where is the soul? Is Paul then speaking of soulless beings? For if the evil belongs to the flesh and the good to the Spirit, then the soul would be superfluous. Not at all; for the ordering of the passions is the work of the soul and concerns the soul. The soul is situated in the middle of the struggle between virtue and vice. If the soul uses the body as it should, it makes itself more spiritual.” (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Chrysostom, Homily on Galatians).

That statement is surprising because, unlike much of traditional Christian theology, there’s no mention of human depravity. We are, according to Chrysostom, a soul working out its priorities in life. So how does the soul, as Chrysostom says, “order the passions”? According to Ed Rabel, it does so by proper use of the Twelve Powers. He writes,

“Joy is not one of the twelve faculties, but joy is one of the fruits of the spirit or rewards one gets for using the twelve powers correctly. Peace is not one of the twelve faculties; peace is a fruit of the spirit and the reward one gets for using the twelve faculties. But the twelve faculties themselves are what Mr. Fillmore says they are; they are the originals; they are the Divine Ideas embodied into human nature as faculties and can be expressed by man through his human nature to serve the Christ.” (Ed Rabel, Old Testament Lectures, p.44)]

So what we have is a sainted early Church father and a much-loved Metaphysical Christian saying that these nine qualities are the fruit of a soul that looks to Spirit in the task of ordering its soul.

If that is true, then each time we repeat these terms — while driving, waiting in line, exercising — we are actually ordering our soul and calling forth the fruit from a soul aligned with Spirit.

Let me close with two writings I found that support this notion:

From the Revealing Word on Pentecost: “That day of Pentecost” signifies a gathering of spiritual powers for the purpose of harvesting the first fruits of Spirit; otherwise, a dedicating of these new forces of Spirit to unselfish service in the vineyard of the Lord. The first Pentecost after Jesus’ ascension was the time of the first recorded coming of the Holy Spirit baptism upon His apostles and immediate followers. The descent into consciousness of the Jesus Christ life may have taken place on the day of Pentecost in the company of the apostles as described. They were in the upper room of the mind, which is a spiritual state of mind, and had been praying for ten days with one accord for the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit as given by Jesus. This attitude of many minds forms a mental magnet and brings about results in flashes of light and spiritual illumination. Religious revivals have demonstrated this to greater or lesser degree.

From “The Day of the Harvest”, an article by Ida Mingle, published in Unity magazine, October 1918: Man is always master of his harvest. He determines the character of his fruits in the way he handles every proposition that presents itself. Every suggestion of action must be balanced with Principle in the same manner as thoughts in the abstract are balanced with Principle, if one is to reap harmonious expression in the manifest world. If hard experience comes, because of thoughts heretofore established in consciousness, man should rest in the conviction that the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ now sets at naught the law of karma. Through the power of the present thought, man can offset the effect of past thinking, and at the same time lay the foundation of his future harvest. The will of “him that sent me” is that perfection become manifest. “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Let the fruits of Divine ideas be established in the earth. Divine ideas do not bear fruit only as man lays hold of them through thought and makes them creative agencies in consciousness. It is very evident that if the fruits of the Spirit are to become manifest in the earth in this day, that there must be a host of workers cooperating wholesouled, with the Principles of Truth toward this end. God is not an automaton, but is glorified in the earth only as he is glorified in the Son.

If you want to know more about the Fruit of the Spirit and the entire passage, go to the Fillmore Study Bible and read Galatians 5:22-23 and the annotations. You will find there links to the resources mentioned here and to many definitions as described in the Revealing Word and other Unity resources.

Many blessings,

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Contributed by Mark Hicks on 12-04-2022.