Walking by the Spirit – September 26, 2021
Isaiah 55:6-13, Galatians 5: 16-18, 22-26
September 26, 2021
Last week, I was talking about “Living in the Spirit.” And I told you how Paul said, the way we do that, is by “Setting our minds on” the things of the Spirit. I hope you remember that, and I hope you’ve been thinking about that this week. I hope you’ve been “setting your minds on that!”
Well, as is often the case with the Holy Spirit, one thought leads to another. That happened for Paul. And it happens with us. And so, as I was considering what it meant to “set one’s mind on things of the Spirit,” I was led to this verse in Galatians 5. Again, this is Paul writing – this time to the church in Galatia. And he said this. And this sounds like a perfect follow-up to the verse from last week. He said, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)
The word “walking” gives the sense of deliberate movement forward. It’s a progression of sorts. Sometimes people have talked about our faith in terms of their “walk with the Lord.” Or sometimes it’s even shortened to their “Christian walk,” our just our “walk.” And our faith is like that, isn’t it? – whether you use that term or not. It’s not just a “standing in one place with our beliefs.” It’s moving forward in our lives, with Jesus beside us, guiding us and influencing our direction every day.
The word “Walk” has taken on new meaning for me lately. With my ankle problem, I haven’t been doing it very well over the past couple of years! And after my surgery, I’ve been “rediscovering” it! And walking is a slow, deliberate process! It takes a lot of balance and awareness of one’s position. And it takes an awareness of what we need to take with us when we walk, and where we’re going! Through this experience, I discovered that you never know how many things you carry around with you in your hands every day, until you have to walk with crutches!
Our faith is like walking. It is moving forward in our lives, looking to Jesus, seeking his guidance. We have to give thought to that, too, don’t we? We can’t mindlessly live our spiritual lives without intention and direction, and then expect it to mean anything to us. We have to work at it. We have to choose to “set our minds on it.” We have to decide we are going to let it affect all the things we do. And I know that’s pretty basic. But we need to hear it from time to time.
Then, in another example of how the Holy Spirit speaks through what came before, and how that relates things to other things, I was sent an article this week. And the article was about silence. And the premise of the article was that we don’t have that anymore! We don’t have silence! And we need it!
Just think about that! Think of the cacophony of sound all around us! (And don’t’ you love that word “cacophony?”) Where do you go to find silence, if anywhere? Around here there are “planes, trains, and automobiles!” (Like the movie!) And motorcycles! Don’t forget the motorcycles! Just think of the noises around us all the time! Something always seems to be filling the silence – just like things tend to fill a vacuum! Nature abhors a vacuum. If there’s a vacuum, something is always rushing in to fill it! It seems like it’s the same with silence!
As you know, I’m a music guy. I love many different kinds of music. But not every kind! So that also makes me a “music snob.” Hey, I’ll admit it! I am! And I am working on it! But I want to ask you, where is it written that there must be music all the time, everywhere? You can’t go into a store, or a mall, or a restaurant, (of course!) and not have music playing! You can’t even pump gas at the gas station! And of course, you must have music when you’re on “Hold?” And where do they come up with that music?! It’s awful! (And don’t get me started about people playing music that other people might not care for!)
Why is music on all the time, everywhere? I had a friend in Kansas who always said, whenever we got into the car to go anywhere, “What do you want to listen to?” Sometimes I would say, “How about nothing.”
I agree with the article I read! We are surrounded by sound – by noise – all the time! And we are finding that constant noise adds to stress. At the very least, it robs us of the peace we find by waiting in silence. And it’s very hard to find that silence anymore! Yet the scriptures call for it! And I think it is so important in the idea of living in the Spirit and walking in the Spirit. We need to find quiet moments to connect with the Spirit, if we’ve going to move forward, seeking God’s guidance in our lives.
I was thinking this week about a couple of great Bible verses that mentioned the importance of silence. We read them today. We started with Psalm 62. “For God alone my soul waits in silence.” “He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress. I shall not be moved.” That’s a great one! If we wait for God in silence, we can begin to feel his strength and his power in our lives!
Then a few moments ago, you heard Isaiah 55:6-7. “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found. Call upon him while he is near.” And how do we do that? How do we seek the Lord? The psalmist would tell us that a good way to seek the Lord is to wait on him in silence!
The problem is, not only do we not have silence, we’re also not used to silence. We’re not comfortable with it. We’re not sure what to do with it. Even when we pray, we feel like we should do or say something. I was thinking, if I had started this sermon by saying nothing, and had just watched you sitting in silence, how long would it have been before somebody said or did something? (And what would they have done?!)
Paul said, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” He told us about “setting our minds on the things of the spirit.” And I believe part of the way we do that is by listening. As the article pointed out, waiting in silence for the Lord is of great value! And yet, just try and find some silence to do that!
We used to talk about having a “quiet time.” That’s the time of day we set aside for connecting with God. If you don’t have one of those quiet times each day, try it! But even more than that. maybe we should think in terms of our “silent time.” Take some time each day to “sit in silence before the Lord.” I think you’ll be amazed what it does for you, and how it helps your connection with God!
The last thing I want you to see about this is the practical advice that Paul gives us. I love that about him! Paul was a very practical guy! And here he tells us what this will all look like if we do it. If we want to know a good way of gauging how well we are living in and walking by the spirit, we can look at the other part of this passage. This verse about “walking by the spirit” comes right after the other great thing we find in Galatians 5. Do you know what that is? Galatians 5 is where we find the passage about “The fruit of the Spirit.” Here it is in Galatians 5:22 and 23. And as I read this, consider what a great yardstick this is to measure our “spiritual progress!” If we are living in the Spirit, if we are walking by the Spirit, if we are listening in silence, these are the things we will have.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, things against which there is no law.”
Those are the words that should really be on our refrigerators! Maybe written there in permanent marker! They are what we seek, and they are a good measure of how well we are walking by the Spirit.
So then, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit,” Paul said. If we wait in silence before the Lord, if we seek his presence, if we give him time to speak to us – in whatever form that comes, we will be making that connection with him. We will be setting our minds on the things of the Spirit.
Help us indeed to find the time to wait before you. Help us to be grounded in your Spirit. Help us to hear your still small voice. Help us to feel your peace surrounding us. Help us to have a sense of your power and strength protecting us. And help us to know that your kingdom is in our midst. For we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen!