Spiritual Botany

We say we’re Christians.  We talk about doing Christian things and participating in Christian activities. But what really sets us apart from the rest of the world? I mean…really?  I know for myself, if I’m not careful, I start to exist in what I call “float-mode.” This is that part of my brain that says, “hey, if nothing is glaringly wrong in my life, then everything’s probably alright.”  What I’ve come to learn is that it’s always good to take a step back from time to time (like every day) and make sure I’m actually functioning like a Christian.  And even then I have to fight the temptation to be simply vague and ambiguous.  So how do we keep from being vague and ambiguous in our evaluation of our spiritual growth? Well, one of the best ways to combat generalities is by getting down to specifics.  Let’s take a quick look at a great passage that does just that.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. –Galatians 5:22-26

From “Float-Mode” to Fruitfulness

Now I don’t know about you, but all of these things characterize my life.  I mean, I’m a very loving person (when others love me back).  I have abundant joy (when life is good).  I’m at peace (when there’s no turmoil).  I’m super patient (when I’ve got nothing going on).  I’m a kind person (unless you make me mad).  I’m good (when it’s convenient) and I’m faithful (as long as it doesn’t cost me anything).  I’m gentle (right after I’ve read my Bible).  I have great self-control (like…when I’m sleeping).  Ok…so maybe I have some work to do.  But that’s the point.  All of us do.  We just need to ask the right questions to evaluate our growth…our fruitfulness.

It’s not about existing in “float-mode” and giving Christ just enough to salve our consciences.  It’s not about getting prayed up on your way to Church on Sunday after a week of living in the flesh.  Look at the second half of the Galatians passage one more time.

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have
crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

I love how the New Living Translation puts it:  “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there.”  It’s such an active and dynamic thing, this pursuit of Christ-like living.  It’s like the pruning process in a vineyard.  I grew up on a blackberry farm and one of the things I remember my dad doing every season was pruning.  He wanted every single ounce of energy and nutrients in each bush to go toward producing fruit, not just growing more random (fruitless) branches.  That’s the same concept that we follow when we commit to nailing our sinful passion to the cross and crucifying our flesh.

Nail Your Sinful Desires to the Cross of Christ

Here’s my encouragement in short.  Maybe, if we were more diligent to nail our sinful passions and desires to the cross of Christ, we would see more fruit in our lives.  When we prune back all of the worthless parts of our life, it leaves more time, energy, and resources to be put toward the worthy things.  Here’s an example.  Instead of setting out to be more patient, how about nailing to the cross your sinfully inflexible schedule; or, better yet, your sinful desire to control everything in your life? Instead of setting out to be more gentle and kind, why not nail to the cross your angry temper.  Nail to the cross your sinful desire to scream at, intimidate, and manipulate the people around you.  Those are just a few examples, but hopefully you get the idea.

Take a step back today and think it through.  What are the fruits you need to be growing that currently you are not?  What are some things you need to nail to the cross this week?  If we’re going to depend on the Spirit for life, then, as verse 25 says, “let us also walk by the Spirit.”

Titus Curtis
Titus has a degree in cross-cultural ministry and was on staff at Faith from 2000-2012.