As I recently reread Ephesians 5, I was once again struck by the contrasting lists found there. Paul starts by listing the “works of the flesh.” The list, of course, contains the things that we expect. Such things as sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, drunkenness, and orgies – all of those are there. And they should be. But also in the list are other things, things we might think are not nearly as dangerous or harmful. For example, the list also includes strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, and envy.
Let’s be honest. Those are characteristics readily found in most churches on any given Sunday morning. From our Western mindset, we generally find such things perfectly acceptable. Yet, clearly they are not.
Paul contrasts that list with “the fruit of the Spirit.” Let me zero in on a few of the items from the good list: love, patience, kindness, and gentleness. Think about this for a moment. Is it truly possible to invite the Holy Spirit to work such characteristics as these – love, patience, kindness, and gentleness – into our lives, while, at the same time, continuing to deliberately embrace strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, and envy? Of course not.
The truth is that those things are polar opposites. The Apostle James said it like this, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:10).
I challenge you to invite the Spirit of God to empower you to remove things like jealousy, dissensions and envy from your life, and to replace them with love, patience, kindness, and gentleness.