Galatians 5 provides a great motto for life the way God intended it to be:
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (5:25)
To “keep in step with” someone is to walk in line behind them, to follow their lead, allowing them to set the direction and pace. Kindergarten students are taught to “keep in step with” their teachers in the school hallway. Teenagers are taught by driving instructors how to “keep in step with” traffic as they learn to merge with other vehicles onto the highway. Trails are blazed through the mountains so that hikers can “keep in step with” a safe path to the summit. Simple enough, but take a moment to think carefully about that really important first word: “keep.” The path can be clear, the guide can be good, but I must make the choice to “keep” myself in step.
What better determination could we make at the beginning of a new God-given day than to “keep in step with” the Spirit of God? What will it take?
To “keep in step with” the Spirit, we must not “gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16). Sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these are “against the Spirit” (Gal 5:17-21). They deceitfully lure us away from the path of righteousness, promising freedom and fulfillment, but gratifying them can cost us everything. The posted *DANGER* sign warning us against stepping off the trail has stood for centuries: “Those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:21). I can’t “keep in step with” the Spirit while taking a nosedive into the dark chasm of sin.
But when we make the choice to deny ourselves and “keep in step with” the Spirit, the Spirit’s fruit will be borne in our lives. Love, joy, peace. This is the fruit of a disciple who is abiding in Jesus (John 15:4-5). Patience, kindness, goodness. This is the produce of a child of God who is crucifying the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:22-24). Faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. This is the blessed harvest that glorifies our Father in heaven (John 15:8).
Would it help to have the whole thing summarized in one phrase? “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal 5:14). That’s the trail blazed by Jesus Christ. It’s a difficult path at times, uphill and full of switchbacks, but it’s the way that leads to life. And right there in Galatians 5, the Spirit has invited you to trust him as your Guide. Listen to his warnings. Read the signs. Fuel yourself with his encouragements. Take in the view through the lenses of God-shaped perspective. Your Guide knows the way home. He cares more deeply for you than you can imagine.
Let’s live by him and keep in step with him today.