. . . against such things there is no law. (v. 23)
It might seem a little odd that Paul concludes the list of fruits of the Spirit by remarking that there is no law against such fruit. But remember, Paul’s bigger goal is to show the Galatians how the way of the flesh is different from the way of the Spirit and to clarify what the law requires and doesn’t require of Christian converts.
The law can only go so far. Living by law can restrain us and teach us, but it can’t transform our hearts. And even though the kind of Jewish laws that Paul was referring to are different from our modern laws, I think there are enduring comparisons that help us see the insufficiency of the law. For instance, the law can punish you for murder, but it can’t make you show kindness to your enemies. The law can fine you for speeding, but it can’t make you patient. The law can prohibit hate crimes, but it can’t make you love your neighbor. The law can protect your right to the pursuit of happiness, but it can’t bring you deep joy.
At the end of the day, walking in the way of the law is narrow and rigid. It reminds us of our limitations. Walking in the way of the Spirit leads to life lived in its fullest sense, where our human limitations give way to the power of God to redeem us and mold us into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
As you pray, thank God for Jesus Christ, the fullest expression of the fruit of the Spirit.
About the Author
Jessica Bratt Carle lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she has served as a chaplain and more recently as a clinical ethicist at Corewell Health (formerly Spectrum Health) since 2017. She is a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She and her husband have two young sons.