We Love Our Neighbors: Walk by the Spirit

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the spirit.” This message was shared by the Apostle Paul to the Galatian church with the thought that if it is from the Spirit we begin, then every subsequent actions should also be from the Spirit. But what does it mean to “walk by the Spirit”? 

When I was in high school, I remember our vice principal always telling us to “walk with purpose” in the hallways. He would say this as a way to encourage us not to congregate. I guess his fear was if we were idle in the hallways it would lead to mischief. One afternoon during junior year, while hanging out near my locker, a friend and I noticed that a female friend of ours had not fully closed her locker. We decided it would be funny if we were to put something in her locker as a prank. We decided on a dead fish. For weeks the fish sat in the back of her locker behind books. Every time she would come back to her locker, she would comment on how badly our lockers smelled and threatened to come to the school on the weekend to clean them out. Boy was she surprised when she discovered that the smell was actually coming from her own locker. The result of our little prank was a feud that nearly ended our friendships. While it was funny to us at the time, I don’t think we would have done it if we had realized what would happen as a result. Luckily she accepted our apology but not until after our trucks were egged and toilet papered. 

I believe the Apostle Paul encouraged the Galatian church to “walk in the Spirit’ as to avoid doing things that are harmful to themselves and their neighbors. The phrase “walk by the Spirit” appears twice in chapter 5 of the Galatian text, first in verse 16 and then in verse 25. Verse 16 describes what is the opposite of walking by the Spirit, namely, giving in to the desires of the flesh. The “flesh” in this context is our old nature, the things we used to live for, not of God. Instead we live for the things of the Spirit which according to Paul is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Notice how these are primarily actions towards your neighbor. So, if we are to live by the Spirit, then we walk in such a way that we demonstrate peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control towards our neighbor. Let’s walk together in such a way!

In God’s grip,

Pastor Chuck Church

Read Galatians 5:13-26

Exploring Questions

  • According to the text what is the difference between flesh and Spirit?
  • What do you believe Paul means when he says to ‘be led by the Spirit’?
  • What is one main distinction between works of the flesh and fruits of the 


Diving Deeper:

  • Read for context Galatians 5:1-12. Why do you think the Galatians are having such a difficult time rejecting the notion of circumcision? Why is grace so hard to receive? 
  • Describe the freedom/liberty the Galatians have? What are two consequences of becoming circumcised in order to be saved? 
  • What is the hope of righteousness’? How do we wait on it? What tools do we need?
  • What does the Apostle Paul mean by, “a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough”? 
  • What causes some people to start well, but finish poorly in matters of faith? 
  • It is suggested, the reason Paul has been accused of preaching circumcision is because he had Timothy circumcised (Acts 16:1-3). Why was it different in Timothy’s situation? 
  • The whole law is summed up in a single commandment ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. What enables us to follow this commandment? 

Applying Questions:

  • What acts of the flesh (see Galatians 5:19-21) currently get in the way of you walking by the Spirit?
  • What acts of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23) do you currently struggle to achieve?
  • How can your church/faith community help you to better walk by Spirit so that you can do your job of loving neighbors better?