Galatians 5:16-25

I am sure that in this prestigious group of people, there is someone who can tell me what the message title acronym stands for:

Please Be Patient, God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet.’

How many of you would be willing to admit that’s true? Unless your sanctification level is 100%, unless you are batting .1000, unless you are completely and absolutely holy in all areas of your life; then it’s true . . . God isn’t finished with you yet.

That acronym could be a motto for every one of us, and it implies several things that we have noted about sanctification. Sanctification (more Christ-like, holy) is a process that begins from the moment of our new birth and will continue until we take our last breath.

Sanctification is also a struggle. Last week, we referred to it as The War Within. Sometimes we take two steps forward and one step back; sometimes one step forward and two back; but as long as we ‘walk in the Spirit’ we will keep moving forward.

You recall that to ‘walk in the Spirit’ involves developing holy habits; God’s word and prayer . . . prayer and God’s word.

But to adopt P. B. P. G. I. F. W. M. Y. as a motto implies something that most of us don’t get very excited about: CHANGE.

When was the last time you got really pumped about changing your life?

Some of us cringe when we hear the word ‘change’ because we have heard change is hard. If you google like I did ‘Why Is It Hard to Change Your Life’ you will discover page after page of articles with titles such as:

  • Why It Is So Hard to Change Your Life (there were actually two with this title)
  • Why Is Change So Hard
  • Changing Your Life Is Hard but Worth It
  • Why Is It So Hard to Change Unhealthy Behavior
  • Why Is It So Hard to Form Good Habits
  • Why Is Change So Hard
  • 8 Reasons It Is So Hard to Really Change Your Behavior.

Because we resist change because it’s hard, rationalize why we don’t try to change. Most of us have learned to like ourselves just the way we are . . . thank you very much . . . there’s nothing wrong with me … I’m content with the way I am … I don’t need changing.

This past week, Gail and I visited our newest grandbaby Elliot who is 4 months old. At 4 months Elliot excels at 3 things: sleeping, eating and pooping. In fact, we witnessed him eating and pooping at the same time. And guess what? It isn’t long after he fills his diaper that he wants a change. And if he doesn’t get one, he has a way of letting everyone know about it. Can you imagine a baby saying, “Hey, I like myself this way; I don’t need a change, even though this stuff stinks and is squishy, I’m content to remain just as I am”? No way! Aren’t babies happier and more comfortable after being freshly changed?

And so will we be.

Yes, change is hard. Yes, we have learned to be comfortable in our own diaper.

However; the NT is replete with verses of scripture that calls for us to change.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2NLT)

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (II Corinthians 5:17)

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. (Ephesians 4:21-24)

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. (Colossians 3:10)

So no matter how averse we might be to changing our life, that’s what we are called to do.

The good news today is that of all those on-line articles had one thing in common: they left God out of the equation.

They all focused on what we in our own power should do to effect change. And the truth is when we rely on ourselves change IS hard. That’s why the vast majority of New Year Resolutions fail before 3 months.

But we have an ace up our sleeves. We have someone in our corner encouraging us on to fight the good fight. We have someone in the grandstands cheering us on to run the race with perseverance. We have God the Holy Spirit encouraging us and cheering us on as Paul writes the Philippians ‘God is working in you, giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him’ (2:13).

Some years ago Christian author Max Lucado underwent a heart procedure. His heartbeat had the regularity of a telegraph operator sending Morse code: fast, fast, slooooow. After several failed attempts to restore healthy rhythm with medication, his doctor decided Max should have a catheter ablation where a cardiologist cauterizes the misbehaving nerves of the heart. As he was being wheeled into surgery, his doc asked if he had any final questions. Lucado said, “You’re burning the interior of my heart, right?”
“You intend to kill the misbehaving cells, yes?”
“That is my plan.”
“As long as you are in there, could you take your little blowtorch to some of my greed, selfishness, superiority, and guilt?”
The doctor smiled and answered, “Sorry, that’s out of my pay grade.”

Lucado concludes: Indeed it was, but it’s not out of God’s. He is in the business of changing hearts. “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 36:26).

What we need to come to embrace is that if we will engage in certain behaviors, God the Holy Spirit will bring about positive and wonderful change in our lives. If we will learn to ‘walk in the Spirit’ by developing holy habits of feeding on God’s Word and prayer, God will change our diaper, sorry, our hearts and will produce in us the fruit of His Spirit.

Let’s review them.

Love (agape) is not a feeling. It is looking out for the best interest of others and sacrificing whatever it takes to bring that about. The best definition of love is found in I Corinthians 13:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (13:4-7).

Joy . . . is not happiness which is dependent on outward circumstances. Joy is a deep-seated assurance that regardless of what life throws our way, we can smile inside because ultimately God has our backs. Jesus said, ‘In this world, you will have trouble, but be of good cheer (joy) for I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Similarly, peace is not the absence of conditions that cause us stress, but the conviction that in the midst of the worst storms God is with us. Jesus said, ‘My peace I give to you, not as the world gives, but My peace I give unto you’ (John 14:27).

Patience . . . macrothumia is a compound word, one of which means ‘long’ or ‘slow’ and the other means ‘anger.’ Literally, then, this fruit of the Spirit means ‘slow to anger.’ Not short-tempered . . . but long-tempered. Or as one wag put it: the ability to count down before one blasts off. One Bible scholar writes, “Love’s patience is the ability to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by another person over and over again; and yet not be upset or angry.” One of the early church fathers, Chrysostom, wrote this about this fruit of the spirit: “It is a word which is used of the person who is wronged and has it easily within their power to avenge themselves . . . but never will.”

I don’t have to explain kindness.

Goodness here means being generous with what one has. I John 3:17 provides as good an explanation as any: “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need, but shows no compassion (goodness, generosity) how can God’s love be in that person?’

Our Faithfulness is directed to God and His Kingdom and is evident when we participate in both corporate and private worship, when we give of our resources of time, talent and treasure towards His kingdom, when we love and serve others in Jesus name.

Gentleness can also be translated meekness, but make no mistake, meekness is not weakness. The word was used to describe a horse that had been broken; still having power, but not using it. It is restrained behavior toward others. Its opposites are expressed anger and revenge.

Last but not least, self-control; temperance in the KJV. It involves moderation, constraint the ability to say ‘no’ when our sinful nature tempts us to do anything contrary to God’s will.

There you have it: a brief description of the life God has in mind for you and me.

Once upon a time, there was a baby eagle called Eddie was born into this world and began to share a nest with his siblings at the top of a very tall tree.

One day a strong wind blew up, and the nest was rocked wildly from side to side, at one point rocking so far that poor little baby Eddie was tipped out. Not yet old enough to fly, down he fell into a rabbit burrow at the base of the tree. When he got to his feet, Eddie found himself among a group of bunnies. Now rabbits may be good breeders, but they’re not exceptionally smart, so they all assumed that Eddie was just an odd-looking rabbit. So Eddie was adopted into the family and grew up learning to live as a rabbit. He hopped and jumped, lived in the family burrow and ate grass. Of course, as he grew, Eddie struggled with a sense of terrible inferiority. He didn’t look like the other rabbits, he was always the last one chosen when it came to hopping games, and he was often sick from eating grass.

Then one day his life changed dramatically when Eddie and his rabbit siblings were out in a field playing and a dark shadow raced across the ground. The rabbits looked up and there hurtling towards them was a mighty eagle. With squeals of fear, the rabbits ran as fast as they could for the undergrowth. Eddie knew he was a goner as he couldn’t run as fast as the others. The mighty eagle drew closer until Eddie could sense it right above him. Eddie braced himself for the inevitable when he heard the eagle call out, “Brother, what are you doing hopping around on the ground like a rabbit?! You’re an eagle. Spread your wings and fly!”

Startled by the shock of what had happened, confused by the eagle’s words, Eddie started to move those useless things at his side. He stretched them out and began flapping until he found himself lifting up from the ground, then soaring effortlessly through the heavens. That day Eddie discovered he wasn’t made to hop along the ground, but to soar through the skies.

The same is true of us. God causes us to be born anew through faith in Christ and placed within us the enormous dignity and honor of bearing His image. As we begin to learn to ‘walk in the Spirit,’ He begins to change us from the inside out, enabling us to soar through the skies and to become everything we were created for and really long to be.


1 › Devotionals Daily