How often do you hear that? With kids…daily, but as adults we still catch ourselves saying it. Does the Bible address personal responsibility? The simple answer…yes. Consider a passage I call the “unbreakable law” from Galatians…
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” – Gal. 6:7 NKJV
So if that’s true, why do we have a “disconnect” in our society regarding cause and effect? Basically, because it’s culturally acceptable to separate consequences from actions; however, it’s still not biblically acceptable. The context of verse 7 is important. In the previous chapters, Paul wrote about Christian liberty. He mentions being set free in Christ, something we’re eager to claim (and rightly so), but at the same time we’re less inclined to “walk in the Sprit” as commanded. A walk which mirrors tending a crop and seeing fruit produced (now we’re talking calloused hands & aching backs).
In chapter 5, verses 22-23 the fruit of the Spirit is listed as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In strong contrasts though, the works of the flesh are listed in verses 19-21 describing unclean deeds, wrong priorities, wrong attitudes, and self-destructive behavior.
Now before I start pointing fingers, I should notice it was written to Christians…those of us following Christ. The struggle between the Holy Spirit in me and the flesh is a daily battle, and is producing either desirable fruit or unwanted weeds. So, practically speaking, it looks like this…
Fruit of the Spirit
- Cultivation – this requires soil to be tilled and can be tough. My natural inclination is to remain “undisturbed”. I’m often like Georgia red clay (the stuff that stained the knees of my pants as a child driving my mom crazy). Occasionally, I need to be turned and broken up to bring freshness.
- Conditioning – Additives to balance ph levels, moisture content, and health. In my walk as a believer it’s adding good habits like prayer, Bible study, and encouraging friendships.
- Pest Control – I need to control the nutrient thieves and freeloaders. This takes the form of unhealthy relationships, and distractions.
- Debris Removal – rocks, stumps, and roots. These are the habits needing dug up once and for all to be eliminated. Negotiating with a stump only brings tired frustration. Sometimes it means working a shovel with the Holy Spirit’s help.
- Feeding – daily watering, sunlight etc. keeps the life flowing. Spiritually, I must be in the regular habit of being fed.
Overall, it’s an active process requiring a connection to Christ (John 15:5) and diligence.
Works of the Flesh
- Weeds – birds, wind, and small animals; they all work together to bring unwanted seeds to your field. As a Christian, the world is constantly depositing junk in our life’s field. There is no neutral ground. Something is going to be growing.
- Erosion – small trickles of water can soon grow and carry away the soft tilled soil that’s been fussed over. When a spiritual weak spot is noticed, it’s wise to brace it up, fill it in, and divert the water elsewhere.
- Trees – around here pine trees spring up at the drop of a hat. They start out as saplings and quickly grow. When something unhealthy takes root, don’t ignore it.
The pattern is obvious. When left unattended, a plot of ground will produce all kinds of unwanted crops. It reminds me of a space near our home that once was a wonderful field of cotton. It’s now wooded simply because one year it was harvested and never worked again. Trespassers even use it, considering it public property.
Conclusion –I can talk the talk, but the fruit will come from the walk. The truth of the “unbreakable law” will tell-the-tale in the end, and it applies to all areas – personal life, parenting, marriage, or the ministry of a church. We simply can’t afford to be passive, because our adversary is not. Prayer is a great place to start. Ask for discernment in your walk and the willingness to deal with the weeds. Before you know it there will be fruit in abundance, and seeds for planting the next generation too.