“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26
The 109th World Series began last night, as if some of you had to be told. It is the highest level of what is known as “America’s Pastime, a sport born in America and possibly, along with our brand of football, its most popular athletic endeavor. It is a stage (“All the world’s a stage! Shakespeare wrote) where passions are on display by participants and spectators alike; but not the only stage where man exhibits his mannishness, or humans show they are creatures ruled by their passions in pursuits too numerous to mention. A quick study of the words “passion, passionate, or passions in modern translations of the Bible finds they are used primarily in negative connotations (interesting!), or in the KJV twice to define what it means to be human like all humans are human (e.g. James 5:17, KJV). It is not that “passion, a part of your nature, is evil in every situation, but separated from the fruit of the Spirit, especially self-control, passions all too frequently erupt into ungodly behavior.
Not to disparage being a fan of sports, but how often have we heard, seen and experienced the eruption of passions over a mere “game resulting in riotous, injurious, and even homicidal behavior. There is always, of course, the radical fan “fringe who allows their passions to go berserk. However, the passion of the average fan, like most of us, usually exceeds our passion for the pursuit or habit of godliness. The Bible is not off the mark when it uses the word “passion negatively to describe an avid proclivity for feeding the desires of the flesh more than the spirit. When you compare the fruit of the Spirit in each of its various manifestations (see verse 22 in today’s text), it is difficult to match these up with the passionate behavior we often see in ourselves or others in the following of our favorite teams, or, for another example, in the political discourse in our land, or in the pursuit of many avocations or desires which stir human passions. As my wife is well aware, I am not not watching the World Series. Having lived in St. Louis three different times, you can imagine for whom I am cheering; all the more reason for me to analyze my own behavior through a lifetime once playing and now watching many athletic competitions; not without bias, of course. And I am not the only competitive one in my family!
Competition isn’t wrong; it is a fact of life. But it is always a test of passion, and a test of a desire to bear the fruit of the Spirit, AND see it producing in your life. Self-awareness is a critical part of Christian character, and analyzing the displays of passion in your life in view of the fruit of the Spirit is a necessary activity of your sanctification. God does not desire for you to become passionless. God forbid! What He wants is for you to be passionate about those things which will last forever; not the things which quickly fade when the rubber meets the road; that is, when you come face to face with the truly weighty things of this life and the next.
Passion can be fodder for sin, or it can be boundless energy in the right direction.
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