Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: Enmities
- Where have you seen or experienced human kindness in the past week?
- What does this fruit of the Spirit feel like for you?
- What enmities could you turn over to the Spirit in prayer today?
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. – Galatians 5:22-23 (NRSV)
I love the sights and sounds of baseball: the crack of the bat, balls hitting glove leather, and, this year, a healthy fraction of the live crowd noise we heard in the before times. One of my favorite things about my team, the Washington Nationals, and their fans is how much we love to welcome back former players. Friendly ovations from the crowd, kind words from the broadcasters, and good-natured interactions between teammates-turned-rivals are the norm.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul teaches that if we’re letting ourselves accept the guidance of the Spirit, this is how we’ll be: loving, joyful, at peace, patient, kind, generous, faithful, gentle, and able to control ourselves. His list follows a catalog of behavioral sins in verses 19-21, among them one word that stands out for me: “enmities,” the active hostility to someone or something. It’s a bitter and unremitting state of mind and heart. It’s hatefulness we can’t keep inside. It’s the systemic hate that sustains racism and bigotry and fuels actions – both individual and collective – that harm people and communities and the world.
I know I have my enmities. I could probably make a convincing case (to myself, anyway) of why that hostility is deserved by its targets. But for right now, I’m picturing myself covering first base, exchanging a word with the rival I usually want to tag out, remembering we are all beloved by God.
(We’ll save our enmities for the umpires.)
Spirit of God, the human team must feel difficult to manage. Help me to follow your coaching today. Amen.