“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self–control.” (Galatians 5:22)
How many times do you hear that question, or one similar to that? I got a call the other day from a telemarketing service that was targeting the church, and when I politely informed the caller that I wasn’t interested and didn’t want to let her continue her sales pitch, she asked, “well, you’re a pastor aren’t you? Is that how a Christian is supposed to act?” Now obviously she was trying to lay a guilt trip on me and get me to buy whatever it was she wanted me to buy, but really? Did my being a pastor, or a Christian for that matter mean that I was obligated to waste my time listening to her pitch me for something that if I had really wanted it, I would have already bought it in the first place? What does it really mean to be and act as a Christian? Must we be the ones to be extra kind, even gullible, and accommodate the expectations of everyone who wants us to act like Christians?
Acting as genuine Christians is important. We cannot be genuine Christians without our words and acts showing forth the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. So what, then, do we do to live as Christians? The Apostle Paul teaches us, 12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14).
Quite simply, as carefully and deliberately as we get up in the morning and clothe ourselves, we are also to put on these virtues of God, so that whenever people look at us, the first thing they see, along with our outer clothes, are those things that mark us as Christians. And beyond that, we are to be people of forgiveness.
Accepting the forgiveness Christ offers us, and being willing in turn to forgive others. When we do that, the door is opened up for us to love others again, just as Christ forgave and loved us. Then the door that is opened will be the one that leads us into the Kingdom of Heaven, for the only ones who may enter in are those who have forgiven just as the Father has forgiven them, and who are now free to love others.
No, being Christians does not mean we have to be gullible and meet the demands of everyone else, but it does mean that we ought to act in ways that show off the work of the Holy Spirit. Today as you pray, invite God’s Holy Spirit to go to work on your life, remodeling it into the kind of life that shows off genuine Christian love.
May your Christian walk be eternally blessed, my sisters and brothers, Pastor Ken.