Reading from the book of Galatians on the morning after 115 million Americans went to the polls, this is the verse that caught my attention: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6b) Paul was writing to the Galatian church that he dearly loved. It was a church that he started as people heard the message that Jesus is risen from the dead and believed. But now, the church was embroiled in conflict. Some Christians saw themselves as superior to other Christians in the church. Those who were Jewish Christians felt Gentiles could not be true Christians unless they followed Jewish practices including circumcision. What had gotten lost was the unity that is found at the cross. Paul made this impassioned appeal in the letter that what matters most is faith expressing itself through love.
The day after an election – what matters most? We are still here – all 115 million of us. The past months of campaign rhetoric was not pleasant. In the end, I had to stop watching television. I feared the relentless ugliness of the messaging was having an impact on me – not on my vote, but on my character.
Paul’s reminder was that Christian character is produced by the Holy Spirit. When we let the Holy Spirit work within us, there is fruit that will be seen in our character: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If I want that fruit, then I must let the Holy Spirit work within me.
So, today. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. What is the most loving way for me to speak and to act? There are days (most days, I think) when I cannot do that on my own. Let us live by the Spirit.
Today’s readings: Job 31-32; Galatians 5-6