Branded L. Joseph Rosas March 1, 2004 Galatians 5:1, 13-25 The story is told about the Texas rancher who spent half a day showing off his giant spread, created by the acquisition of ten smaller ranches. His guest inquired, “What do you call your ranch?” “It’s the Lazy R, Salty Creek, Broken Arrow, Double Q, Triple Bar, Sagebrush, Cool Spring, Lizard Gulch, Dry Bone, Horseshoe Ranch.” “Wow!” exclaimed his impressed visitor, “You must have a lot of cattle.” “Nope,” replied the Texan, “Not too many can survive the brandin’.” In a day of designer labels and brand name products, we are all looking for a handle on who we are. In today’s text Paul makes a bold, declarative statement, “Christ has set us free!” But true freedom is more than the right to do what you want, it is the power to be what you ought! If we do “what comes naturally” there is a laundry list of wearisome works that will characterize our conduct. These vices deny kingdom virtues and will ultimately lead to a dead end of despair. We are to “walk” (KJV) (or “live” NIV) in or by the Spirit. (v. 16) In this case I prefer the older translation. We are not told to simply sit and wait – the Christian life is not passive. Nor are we told to run ahead – the Christian life is not frentic activity. We are told simply to walk, one step at a time – the Christian life is a journey. Sometimes believers get overwhelmed at the magnitude of a vision, calling or task. Robert Schuller says, “It’s hard by the yard, but a cinch by the inch.” When branded by the grace of God, we are called to order our lives according to the Spirit’s leading. And that obedient walk results in what Dr. Hal Poe has labeled, “The fruit of Christ’s presence.” Jesus said that our fruit will identify us. This eight-fold cluster of fruit may simply be an amplification of the first fruit of agape. Unconditional love is the mark and measure of authentic discipleship. (Jh. 13: 34-35) Joy is the contentment not based upon external circumstances. Peace is more than the absence of strife, it means wholeness or completeness. Patience is an even temperament in turbulent circumstances. Kindness is basic consideration of the feelings of others. Goodness is continually seeking and doing that which is right. Faithfulness can be characterized by Eugene Peterson’s phrase, “a long obedience in the same direction.” Gentleness is a quiet and submissive spirit – to God and others. Self-control is mastery of drives and desires – much like the discipline of an athlete. One year at church camp I was trying to help the children understand the “natural” way fruit develops. One night I brought in an obviously dying tree limb upon which I had tied a few red apples. I said, “Look at the apple tree I found today.” “That’s no apple tree.” “Of course it is, see the apples.” “But they don’t belong on that limb” “Why do you say that?” “We can see the string besides the limb is dead!” A lot of Christians are trying desperately to tie fruit on the dead habits of their old nature. A healthy tree must take root to bare fruit. Paul says that if we are made alive by the Spirit, we should keep in steep with the Spirit. Advertisers pay Hollywood a premium for “product placement” – clearly seen brands on everything from soft drinks to automobiles that serve as props for various cinematic scenes. If we are truly “branded” as belonging to God, we become the “product placement” for His virtues in the ongoing drama of daily life. _______________________ Sermon brief provided by: L. Joseph Rosas, Pastor of Crievewood Baptist Church, Nashville, TN. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.