48: The fruit of the Spirit at work (Galatians 5:19-23)

Scripture ReadingGalatians 5:19-23

The Spirit of God, given to Christians when they believe the good news of Christ, helps us to live out our faith. Those who “live by the Spirit” will reject the “works of the flesh,” which include “fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these” (Gal. 5:19–21). Parts of this list sound all too similar to life in many workplaces—strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions and envy. If we are called to live in the Spirit at all, then we are called to live in the Spirit at work.

Paul specifically warns us against “self-indulgence” in the name of freedom (Gal. 5:13). Instead, we should choose to “become servants to one another.” At work, this means we are to assist our co-workers even when we are in competition or at odds with them. We are to confront fairly and resolve our jealousies, angers, quarrels, factions, and envy, rather than nurture resentment. We are to create products and services that exceed our customers’ legitimate expectations, because a true servant seeks what is best for the person served, not merely what is adequate.

We often think of the fruit of the Spirit, described in Galatians 5, in the context of church life. But when we apply it to our work, it can give us fresh perspective and has a transformative effect on our workplaces. The Spirit at work in believers produces new attitudes and actions. In agriculture, fruit is a result of long-term growth and cultivation. The metaphor “fruit of the Spirit” signals that God cares about the kind of people we are becoming, not just about what we are doing today. We are to cultivate “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23) over the course of a lifetime.

We have no reason to believe that this fruit is meant only for relationships among Christians in our churches and families. On the contrary, just as we are to be guided by the Spirit in every facet of life, so we are to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit wherever we are, including the places in which we work.

Prayer: Lord, I want to reflect your goodness. Help me to grow in and demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control—in my work today. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read Life in the Spirit (Galatians 5:13–23) from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.

Author: Theology of Work Project

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