As he’s wrapping up a letter to some friends, here’s how Paul starts a conversation about how to treat each other: “I just talked about the fruit that you will bear if the Spirit is in you. So now, if you are alive because of the Spirit in you, giving you life, you need to pay attention to the way you are living that life.”
Thinking about that statement reminded me of a conversation I had with a woman not long before she died. I asked her what to pray for. She said, “for a second chance.” Other people get a second chance, she said. She wanted me to ask for one for her, too. I said, “What would you do with a second chance?” We had a good conversation.
And that’s what Paul is saying. We have God with us, in us, granting us forgiveness, giving us relationship with God. What are we going to do with that second chance at life?
The first thing he says is this: Don’t turn your life into a spiritual competition.
Don’t get excited when other people seem to mess up. If we ever say, “Well, at least I don’t do that,” we’re not walking with the Spirit. If we ever say, “They’ll get theirs in the end,” we’re not walking with the Spirit.
And don’t get discouraged when other people seem to get all the spiritual attention. “They have a perfect life, I have pain. God must hate me,” isn’t walking with the Spirit. “Their mom was healed, mine died. God must hate me,” is following some bad teaching someone gave you.
I’m sorry for the bad teaching. God doesn’t hate you. Neither do I. And fortunately, we’re not in a spiritual competition. We’re in a spiritual community. I want to live as if that’s true.