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  • Carley Marcouillier

Fruitful: Free to Flourish

Summer is here! Oh, there is just something about the warmer weather and brightly colored blooms that excite my soul and refresh my perspective. As I spend my summer days with sweet friends, making memories in the mountains, I feel free! Free from the expectations and structure of my daily schedule. Free from the distractions and development of my future dreams, free from the failure of my past and the frustrations that I currently face.

But isn’t true? We all want to flourish, be fruitful and find the fulfillment of true freedom. Just look at our social media and count the posts that portray this pursuit of positivity and progress! We desire to grow, bloom, and thrive yet so often we chase counterfeit sources of sustainment that enslave us to shame, struggle, and selfishness.

This summer, I want to intentionally focus on the foundation of my freedom and seek to develop a spirit of fruit-filled living that will sustain my soul and inspire those around me. We were never created to remain the same but to grow into the grace and goodness of our Savior. It’s time we step out and seek out what it means to truly thrive!

The question is this:

“What is holding us back from the freedom of flourishing?” Have we forgotten the grace of the Gospel that invites us to take hold of the hope Christ offers us? What would life look like if we focused on the fruitfulness found in Christ?

Scripture using the analogy of fruit in many passages of Old and New Testament but one of the most well-known passages is found in Galatians 5. Paul writes in the conclusion of his letter to the church in Galatia,

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy,d drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who doe such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (5v26-25)

These words of Paul invite us to take hold of the fruitfulness found in a Spirit-led life.

What Paul emphasizes throughout his whole letter to the believer’s in Galatia and to us today, is that the gospel is one of grace through faith rather than worth through works. At the beginning of chapter 5, he reminds his readers of the foundation of true flourishing, stating,

“For freedom, Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Freedom from our sin and shame, failures and fears is the first step in pursuing fruitfulness. This freedom comes through faith in the work of Christ in our lives. Paul writes in Romans 8,

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of Sin and death.” (8v1-2).

Friend, have you taken hold of this freedom to flourish? Maybe you have lived the “moral life” working for a worth that you hope God will honor. Or maybe you have believed that to be fruitful and faithful you must follow rules and religious routines to be righteous.

I have been there too, and it felt nothing like flourishing!

Much like the believers in the Galatian church, we so easily turn to a distorted gospel, one that worships works and weighs our worth on the external expectations of religious laws and language rather on the finished work of Christ’s cross. Paul implores his readers to stop working for righteousness and simply receive the redemption that invites us into the family of God. For what we could not do, Christ came to conquer, so that through Him, we may eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness (Galatians 5v5).

My hope of this series is to learn to set aside my striving and simply surrender to the Holy Spirit’s work within me. I want, as Paul says, to live in the Spirit and walk in step with the Spirit so that I may experience the freedom I have been given, no longer following the feelings of my flesh which are meant to enslave my soul.

Each week this summer, I will explore one of the fruits the Holy Spirit offers us and became more aware of its benefits in finding freedom from our failures and fears. For these outpourings are not asked of us but given to us as we practice to establish our steps in surrender to the Spirit’s leading.

Let’s learn together what it looks like to let the Spirit lead our lives and experience the grace and goodness of the gospel this summer.