ODJ: Mixed Bag

May 4, 2016 

READ: Galatians 5:16-24  

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires (v.17).

My pastor sat down in my church office and told me about a parishioner he had encountered years ago at another church. The woman, known for her criticism, felt that he did nothing right, and she shared those sentiments with others. His sermons weren’t the kind of preaching she liked. At best, she said, they were “mediocre”. She even asked him why he didn’t preach like some of the ministers on TV. When he met to talk with her about her criticisms, she didn’t back down. But even with all of the venom he received from the woman, my pastor could say to me, “There were many wonderful things she did for the church. We’re all mixed bags, Marlena, all mixed bags. Just remember that.”

I took his words to heart, because I know I’m a mixed bag too. While I may not often struggle with constantly and publicly criticising others, there are certainly times when I grumble in my heart against people (see Philippians 2:14). As Galatians 5:17 says, “The Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other.”

I’m called to love my neighbour as myself (v.14), but I want to love my neighbour when it’s easy and convenient. The real test of my love comes when it’s difficult and inconvenient.

Which reminds me: when I’m tempted to point out the sins of others (most often family members) to take specks out of their eyes (Matthew 7:3-5), I need to remember that I too am a mixed bag. I too struggle even if it’s not with the same sins. The realisation that I’m much more a sinner than a saint is humbling.

Praise God that He helps me deal with my faulty, human ways (Galatians 5:22)—producing a mixed bag of ‘fruit’ that can honour Him!

—Marlena Graves

365-day plan: Esther 3:1-15

Read Psalm 15. Think about how God sees both our hidden sins and the good deeds done in secret 
Are there any blind spots in your life? Places of tension? How might you address those with God’s help and the help of others so you can walk in the Spirit?