The Judaizers in Galatia considered themselves God’s unique people –the descendants of Abraham – by virtue of their ethnic distinctives, like circumcision. Based on this false exceptionalism, they excluded Gentiles from the table and church. God’s Spirit counters such exclusionary, shaming tendencies. By cultivating the fruit of the Spirit, we can join in God’s mission of dismantling shame in and around us.
How do the fruits of the Spirit dismantle shame?
- LOVE, by essence, banishes shame. Love is the complete acceptance of another person. Love is all embrace, no exclusion. Because true love is selfless, it makes no pretense to manipulate others to magnify one’s status. Because love is unconditional, it overlooks any basis of false shame in others.
- PEACE means reconciliation. Peace with God means we are on his team, in his family, under his roof. God does not label and dismiss us as enemies. He receives and embraces as peaceful friends. When there is peace, nobody’s existence or dignity is threatened. Hostility occurs when someone’s identity and status is jeopardized.
- PATIENCE is using time to dismantle shame and bestow honor. Impatience commodifies and dehumanizes people as means to your ends for our purposes. But patience humanizes and dignifies people. Patience declares someone’s worth and value, especially in our culture where time is our most prized asset.
- KINDNESS is using words to dismantle shame and bestow honor. We have all felt welcomed and blessed by a kind word; as well as cursed and belittled by a mean word. Words declare worth. May our tongues be God’s instruments for multiplying honor, not shame.
- GENEROSITY is using resources to dismantle shame and bestow honor. A family naturally shares everything because they are a group. Generosity is how we tangibly include others into a community. Giving a gift declares the receiver as important and significant.
- FAITH means trusting in God’s evaluation. Faith is adopting God’s code of honor, particularly in our relationships with others. Through faith, we bring to earth the heavenly realities: that those who believe in Jesus are honored and will never be shamed.
- GENTLENESS is the quality of not being overly impressed by one’s self-importance. Being gentle takes humility. It is being considerate to affirm other’s importance and worth.
- SELF-CONTROL exercises restraint in one’s emotions or impulses. Self-control keeps us from the self-honoring mechanisms of conceit, provoking one another, and envying one another (Gal 5:26) .
Conversely, the fruit of the flesh– hate, animosity, impatience, meanness, stinginess, disloyalty, harshness, and self-indulgence – are false attempts to cover my shame. The fruit of the flesh multiply shame; the fruit of the Spirit dismantles shame. How have you seen the Spirit work, through you or others, to demolish shame?