"But the fruit of the Spirit is love…" – Galatians 5:21
You’ve been this way before; yes you’ve seen these road signs once or twice in the past, if not more. What place is this? It is the path of life. Matthew 7 calls it this and declares that there are few who find it.
Walking by again and again, recognizing the need to make up your mind and finally decide if now will be that time that I change; the time that I let go and let God have His way. So I you decide that yes, it's my time to ascend to a higher place than where I've been. It's my time to let go of contrary opinions and risk being ridiculed and maybe being called "Mr. or Ms. High & Mighty." Though I may wrestle with the question of "How did I get here?" I recognize that it is by the grace of God!
This is the road to the development of the spirit man and righteousness. Again, these stairs are found on an ancient pathway and are the steps which are fueled by a decision of the heart. These steps will lift us higher.
Yes, each step represents your ascension in virtue; your ascension toward your higher calling. Keep in mind what Webster's gives as the meaning of a virtue: "Behavior showing high moral standards." So to ascend higher in virtue and calling is to become the more Christ-like.
Paul writes to the Church at Galatia and unveils these virtues in a rhythmic listing of steps as he was inspired by the Spirit of God. They are: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." The truth is, unless we engage these virtues and not simply be aware of them our progress towards being salt and light in the world is severely impeded.
Could it be that in prior moments as you stood before the staircase to righteousness that you were gripped by the contentious will of the flesh, to do what it wants, or the powers of the world which stand in contradiction to the Spirit of God? Yes, you know the internal tug-of-war that is common to man when we are caught between two decisions? Right then and there is when the whispering voice of contradiction shouts and feeds that insatiable echo in our soul. All the while these words of persuasion are calling us away from what we know is better and seeks to gain our agreement with this world. Could it be your feelings that are working in tandem with the opponent of your soul because the one who whispers seeks to sabotage your climb. May I remind you that love is not about a feeling - it's a decision. Yes, a decision to stand, even for the power vested in the virtue.
It has been said that we will discover who we truly are and what we are made of by what we speak in both good and bad circumstances, but this revelation must be coupled with our actions that serve almost as an electron microscope of sorts. Truly, when we know that that electron microscope represents a discerning power that looks deeper and reveals most accurately what is beneath the surface and beyond the natural eye, we are becoming more aware of how the Word of God searches us and reveals:
- Do I love like Christ loved?
- Do I possess the fruit of the Spirit?
- Do I have joy - real joy?
- Do I demonstrate patience with others and in life?
- Do I have self-control?
I would ask these and more such questions because I want to know the condition of my heart; don’t you? Jeremiah wrote, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? (17:9)
The first step in the staircase of virtuous ascension is love. Don’t pass up your chance to go higher any longer. Given that it is a personal choice and no one can make it for you, you are encouraged to choose to engage a virtuous pathway at another level - it is more than just coming to church. On this journey of life seize the moment to evidence virtue just like Jesus did.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:35-40