Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

May 10, 2022
Fruits of the spirit can change our fallen nature

I am reminded on a regular basis that the Bible is not only counter culture but often counter our human — sometimes called our fallen — nature. The writer to the Hebrews described the Bible as alive “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV). 

Full disclosure here: there is no way I could explore the depth of the verse in this brief format. I understand that some may be put off by the description of the sword; it could appear too violent. Certainly the word “judges” could bring up all sorts of negative images. But I have found in reading the Bible I am always finding new applications for my own life; the “thoughts and attitudes” of my heart.  

That should not be too surprising since that is the intent of the book. Paul in his last letter to Timothy wrote “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). 

Perhaps not everyone can share my enthusiasm with that verse but I find it comforting to know that truth exists even while it challenges our thinking. For example James the younger half brother of Jesus made this seemingly contradictory statement: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). 

Our understanding of the word “consider” there is not strong enough; it is more of a command than just something to think about. Our view of hardships should be reframed as something positive, pure joy or a calm delight. Those things we struggle with are allowed by God to do something in us that would not be accomplished without that struggle. It reminds me of a baby chick struggling to free itself from the egg shell, while it would seem to be helpful to intervene we know it is the worst thing we could do for the chick. The struggle produces perseverance or patience, which is also described as one of the fruits of the spirit. 

Paul, when writing to the churches in Galatia, contrasted that fruit with those things that come from our sinful nature. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). While I was stationed at the naval hospital in Cuba, our operating room charge nurse had a saying that I have repeated over the years. “Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can, seldom seen in women, but never in men.” I can overlook the bias in that statement by reminding myself patience is a fruit and fruit is the result of connectedness.

Bill Upton is a retired chaplain of the Tooele City Police Department.

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