Thursday, April 21, 2016

Building the Man

The basics.  It's what we  start with.  It's what we build upon.  It's what we often take for granted.  Whether it be walking, riding a bike, typing, or driving there is something in our lives that we do every day automatically without thought because we've mastered the basics.  Whether employed or a stay-at-home parent, a student in school, or a retiree at the breakfast counter, we rely upon these basics as essentials even when we don't give them a second thought.  These are the things we learned early in life and built additional skills upon.  Then we built additional skills upon those skills and so on.  They are the essentials.

Here is a problem many, including myself, often face with "the basics":  We tend to apply this physical/external/natural rule of law to the spiritual/relational side of our lives.  The basics of salvation, the basics of relationship, the basics of communion with a being of indescribable awe inspiring splendor who is all knowing and all present and yet chooses to personalize Himself to each of us in the daily moments of our lives.  I am guilty of "mastering" these basics and looking to move on.

Yet, constantly I am reminded that just when I think I've got it together, I don't.  I fail.  I fall short.  "All have sinned..."  Yep.  That's me.  I've been professing Christ since I was a child and at mid-life I still shame myself, miss the mark, roll in the mud.  Lately I've been fairly frustrated with this truth.  Why at my stage in life do I not have it more together?  Why can't I claim to be a spiritual upperclassman?  I'm active in my church, I volunteer with organizations, I'm busy, busy, busy.  Why do I still come back to the basics in my personal walk?  The problem is there are no basics, only the truth of the Living Word and a continual pursuit of relationship that will not end this side of eternity.

I was recently reading through Galatians and this passage hit me:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Why did these verses grab my attention?  Because, for me, these are the essentials, the basics.  Sort of like when Jesus shocked the pharisees and scholars by telling them all of law and prophets and the ridiculously long list of add-ons that had been tacked on by men were essentially summed up with "Love God with everything in you" and "Love your neighbor as yourself".  Basic.

These are the markers of our walk, the evidence of the effectiveness of the indwelling of God's Spirit in our lives.  But here's what they are not.  They are not stagnant building blocks of the faith or items to be checked off a list.  "Got patience down, next!"  These are fruit that we must continuously be producing, that's why they are called fruit.  When an apple tree gives apples in the fall it isn't ready to move onto something else - you expect continuous similar and regular results from it.  Such is it with these.

This is a bit of an epiphany for me as I've never really viewed these verses in this manner.  They previously just listed some really good attributes that all Christ followers should be trying to incorporate into their lives. 

I'll be doing some additional study into each of these and maybe even write on some of them, but for now, I'm thankful that it's more than just back to basics.  It's continual living, breathing relationship with Him and His Word.  These are what build the man.


  1. Josh, great essay, I too get frustrated with not being able to have a firm grip on sin. I try to remember that the root of Pauls sin wasnt in Lying, cheating,murder, adultry or idolatry , rather the root was in failing to honor God in all things (Romans 1:25).
    I personally know the frustration and guilt associated with catching myself falling short time and time again. The harder I try not to sin, the harder it becomes at times. If I only had a way to overcome these frustrations.
    I am Glad you pointed out Galatians 5:22-23. The fruit of the spirit....
    If I can just nurture my relationship with God and pray for the Holy spirit to enter my life, I can focus on these fruits rather than the frustrations of falling short. All have fallen short of the glory, and all can be built back up.

    1. Agreed! So often the enemy will work to get us to focus on trying to correct our sin instead of focusing on accepting our Father's forgiveness and grace and leaving our sin behind. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your wisdom!