|Early Summer Flowers|
My friend was appalled at the lengths many believers would go to blame God for our lack of will power, and remarked, "You people are so eager to give yourselves excuses."
"No you see it's only funny because of that very reason," I began, but I smiled and shook my head. Before I could get far into the conversation, I realized that the comment was funny to me because it frivolously embodied several arguments/apologies, the fruits of the Spirit, free will and God's will, and to some extent, false humility.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. The casual comment implied that God had not gifted the woman with that particular fruit. To my mind, that was a charming jumble of human-ness. While the fruits of the Spirit can be considered gifts of God, they are more closely the harvest in humans of a right relationship with God. In this passage in Galatians, Paul tells us what to expect as we humble ourselves before the Lord. He also tells us what we might look for in others to deepen our joy and quicken our hearts. Paul begins by calling us free, and gives us a discussion of the considerations of our free will, within God's will. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery," Galatians 5:1. He is speaking of being a slave to sin. In the comment about fluffy, we can see that we have sinned in so many ways, sinned by blaming God for our silliness, sinned by acts of the flesh which Paul lists, see Galatians 5:19-21, and sinned by using our free will to appease our appetites rather than seek a stronger relationship to God.
As for false humility, in claiming fluffiness, we are confessing our lack of perfection by the world's standards. But fluffiness is a cute way to describe something ugly. We are confessing, but not really. In his book, Humility, Andrew Murray puts it this way. "The call to humility has been too little regarded in the Church because its true nature and importance has been too little apprehended. It is not something which we bring to God, or which He bestows; it is simply the sense of entire nothingness which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all." If God were truly all in our lives, our fluffiness would not be an issue because our self-ness would not be an issue. Whether we were fluffy of stuffy, would not be an issue.
For me, the over-arching point of Galatians 5 is that we are freed by Jesus. The Gospel message is true. Sometimes it is light as a fragrant Spring dawn. Free will in side of God's will is a concept best explained empirically and demonstrated in the fruits of the Spirit. We are free, but our will is lessened as we grow closer to God. Our petulant demands to do what we want to do, become memories. Our rights inside of God's will delight us. We are identified by our choices, good and bad and yet God loves us so, that He sent Jesus. We can make a joke at our own expense. We are free to laugh at ourselves knowing that what we mean is, God I long to do better and be better, but thank you Jesus for my freedom. Our gratitude overwhelms us.