Day 12

Walk by the Spirit

from the A Living Hope reading plan

Galatians 5:1-26, Romans 8:5-17, Micah 6:8, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

BY Jen Yokel

Chances are that at some point in your life you’ve heard a well-meaning parent, teacher, or leader say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Terrible advice, if you think about it. We are social beings, imitators. We learn every aspect of our lives by watching those around us. We intuitively understand that a better way lies in another overused phrase: “Practice what you preach.”

Following Jesus means a lifetime invitation to not just do what He said, but live as He lived. But how can twenty-first-century believers imitate a first-century rabbi? 

Paul’s letters show us how the early Church navigated these questions just a few decades removed from Jesus’s ministry, death, and resurrection. Galatians was written, in part, to address the issue of rites and rituals to a church who had become divided over the role of the law in salvation. Paul offers this: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). Trusting and walking with the Spirit offers freedom. It also makes things a little more complicated.

Instead of chasing shifting norms with an “in or out” mindset, life in the Spirit is a multi-faceted, intuitive path. One Spirit gives “different gifts” for the common good—wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, and discernment, to name a few (1Corinthians 12:4–11) It seems that in God’s wisdom He both gives a variety of gifts as well as incorporates a diversity of personalities, cultures, and styles for worship in His global family. But within this diversity, how do we discern what is actually from the Spirit when some things clearly are not? 

Once again, the natural world has a lot to teach us through flowering, fruitful trees—“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). Just as an apple tree produces apples, a person rooted in the Spirit produces life and goodness. As the Old Testament prophet Micah asserts, it’s not meticulous rule-keeping God is after, but instead for us “to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

If the Holy Spirit is living in you and me, then we can trust we have everything we need. Sure, there are times when we need to lean on our trusted community to help us discern or humbly receive challenges and critique. Of course, we need to grow our wisdom to recognize rotten fruit, even if it appears to come from someone who claims the same Spirit. And we will need grace, too, for people who think, pray, worship and serve differently from us.

It’s freeing and difficult, and we will not get it right one hundred percent of the time. But thankfully, we never have to walk alone.

Post Comments (37)

37 thoughts on "Walk by the Spirit"

  1. Andrea Ingersoll says:


  2. Anna Busse says:

    I feel so similarly! This was very helpful to read. Thank you, Amy!

  3. Melissa Mcronney says:

    Father in heaven ,

  4. Amy EB says:

    We’ve been watching the movie Encanto a lot lately with our daughter (she was home sick from daycare). For those who haven’t seen it, the premise is that there is a magic candle that gives each member of one family a special gift. Except poor Mirabel, she didn’t get one! Sometimes I feel like that reading the list of gifts from the Holy Spirit. I don’t feel like any of those gifts apply to me. I’m not that wise or knowledgeable, I can’t heal or prophesy. But the Spirit distributes to each person as he wills. No one gets skipped. And the gifts He gives may not be obvious, but they don’t need to be flashy. They’re not about bringing attention to ourselves but about how we can contribute to the common good. Mirabel didn’t get a gift like the rest of her family but she still helped to strengthen their family and rebuild their home.

  5. Jeni B says:

    Hi Caroline,

    Paul was speaking to people who had (wrongly) been told that they needed to be circumcised to be saved. It’s not that circumcision by itself is right or wrong, it’s the belief that it is somehow a component to salvation that Paul is coming against. Verse 6 of Galatians 5 is key: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”

    Hope that helps?

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