The Fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5:16-6:10
Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.
From a young age, we begin to compare ourselves to others. We stand back-to-back to see who is the tallest. We compare the length and color of our hair… the size of our houses… the brand of sneakers we wear. And then, we begin to realize that some students score better on tests than others, and we began to compare ourselves to the rest of the class.
If you don’t get a perfect score on the test, you take comfort in knowing that you did as well as Mark or Susie. If you don’t get an A, you still point out to Mom & Dad that you were ahead of 70% of the class. If you happen to have a teacher who “grades on a curve,” then you no longer worry about getting a perfect score, but are content with a score that’s in the top 10 or 20%. After all, that’s “good enough.”
I realize that Paul didn’t know about teachers and bell curves! But he obviously knew about the human tendency to compare ourselves to others and to settle for “good enough.” Apparently, this had settled into the life of the church in Galatia. Believers were comparing their holy living to each other–perhaps pointing out the flaws in others in order to help themselves look better. And instead of striving to live a pure and holy life, they were settling for “good enough.”
Life isn’t graded on a curve. The prophet Amos used a plumb line (Amos 7:7-8) to demonstrate God’s standard of perfection. While grace always abounds, the question is not about whether we are holier than our neighbor. Instead, we are called to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to live a life of holiness and purity.
Cleansed by the crystal flow coming from Thee.
Purge the dark halls of thought; Here let Thy work be wrought,
Each wish and feeling brought captive to Thee.
– Leslie Taylor Hunt