My mom’s least favorite expression comes to mind every time I read this.

Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.


Ever have that one joke that you always laugh at no matter how many times you hear it or even tell it?  That punch line that always makes you smile?  Well, as funny as it might sound, this is the bible verse that always gives me a chuckle.  I think it’s the absurdity and the mental pictures it brings to mind that do it for me.  Who knew Paul was such a jokester?

Paul wrote this book, actually a letter, to the people in Galatia.  Apparently either they were really dense or making excuses or just in need of a good laugh but he told a good one.  Every time I get to the punch line all sorts of absurd scenarios fill my head:

“Oh no, now you’ve done it!  You’ve gone and been kind to that person.  We’re doomed!  The kindness police will track us down.  You know how relentless they are!  Why, just last week I heard how they busted someone for helping an old lady cross the street.  Imagine the brazenness of that!  Being kind in broad daylight!”






“Marcia, Marcia!”

“John, John, John!”



“Marcia, you’re under arrest, I’m in vice for the PD.  That was clearly love in your voice.  You’re coming downtown with me!”

Or how about a law against patience?  Can you imagine the carnage at the DMV if it were literally against the law to stand quietly and wait your turn?  Couple that with making it unlawful to have self-control and you’d be risking life and limb to re-plate your vehicle or get a new driver’s license.

And yet, if these are slightly amusing there’s nothing funny about breaking the law by being joyful or having peace.  Those would be the truly tragic losses from our world.  So, what’s Paul getting at?  Is he just trying to amuse us or is he trying to make a larger point?

I think what he’s trying to say is “Get out of your own way on these things and express all of them.  After all, what is holding you back?” Why are we not always loving, full of joy and at peace with those around us and our very selves?  What keeps us from patience and kindness and goodness?  Why are we not faithful and gentle, exhibiting self-control in everything we do?  There is no law against these things.  If we do not do them we need only to look in the mirror to know who’s to blame.

We have been given all these good things by our Father.  So use them!  Be them!  They are gifts that when expressed, when lived, when exercised, make our lives so much richer.  As we enter a new year and resolve to make changes in our lives consider adopting or focusing on being just one or two of the above, perfectly legal, behaviors Paul enumerates for the good people of Galatia.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

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