Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "What A Friend We Have In Jesus"1 (Lyrics)
Galatians 5:22-23a – But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person's life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (ERV)
I opened a small, out-of-print bookshop, all by myself, in a rough neighbourhood. One day not long after, through the window, I was watching some men who seemed to be hot-wiring a car. Then, they got out and started to come into my shop. Oh, oh! As they came in, I turned towards the door to our upstairs apartment and yelled, "BUTCH! GET SPIKE AND JOE AND TELL THEM TO COME DOWN HERE!" Hastily, the men turned around and drove away. Not even my husband had been home, let alone the mythical guys whose names I'd just made up.
Having worked as a prison librarian, which meant hearing endless stories of how guys had done their crimes, I knew what was going on and how this would likely turn out. The hot-wired, stolen car and robbing me would be the beginning of a spree, spiraling into the blatant sort of sin that we read about in the papers. Probably, they didn't know that God has provided a way out of such sin. At least, God had seen to it that I didn't become just another one of their statistics.
It is so easy to think that guys like these are so much worse than we are. Yet we constantly indulge in all sorts of socially acceptable sins: anger, envy, covetousness, selfishness, resentment, even lack of faith. Jesus addressed this kind of self-righteous sin as hypocrisy and referred to those who had it as "whitewashed tombs". Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, called sin anything that blocks us from God.
The older we get, the more piles of wrongdoing that we accumulate. But God has provided all of us the only way out of the mess that our lives are in — humbly naming our sins and claiming God's forgiveness in prayer, asking His help in getting back up and starting again. Then, through Christ's Spirit, we are set at liberty to live a life that is free and whole, the way that God always intended us to live. As we turn towards God's light, the change starts, though divine grace. There is no longer any need to agonize over our past, or to use chemicals to blank out the wreck that we've made of our lives, feeling restless, irritable, and discontented, sometimes wondering, What's the use anyway? Instead, we can claim God's love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that are our true inheritance.
Prayer: Dear Father God, thank You for providing the way out from the load of our sins through turning to You and through the salvation provided by the death of Your Son on the cross. Thank You for changing our sinful natures into these gifts of the Spirit, freely ours for the asking. Thank You for the brand-new life that we find in You. Amen.