Sometimes the simple act of reading a verse of Scripture in a different version can light up a new truth in a familiar verse.
That’s what happened to me when I was preparing to teach a Sunday School lesson recently from Galatians 5, basically focusing on the Deeds of the Flesh vs. the Fruit of the Spirit. I had previously taught lessons and heard sermons many times on this chapter, so I was searching for a fresh insight, for myself as well as for the ladies I planned to teach. I found it in an unexpected spot.
I kept reading after the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in verses 22-23. My usual “church Bible” is a New American Standard version with lots of underlinings, markings and notes in the margin. For years, I’ve read verse 25 like this:
Galatians 5:25 in the New American Standard version — “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” I knew that the term “walk” was synonymous with living my life, as in “Let your walk match your talk” and “Walk the walk and talk the talk.” You’ve heard those sermons. I would sometimes smile at the word “walk” and how that literally fleshes itself out differently with Steve and me. He is a fast walker — elbows pumping, never slowing down for hills, focused on reaching the finish line, etc. When I was teaching in the elementary schools, I was a very determined walker, going back and forth to pick up classes and escorting them to my music room, etc. But, my default walking mode could more realistically be described as a saunter or a stroll, definitely stopping to smell the roses along the way. Anyone who knows me might quickly (and lovingly) add that my talking pace is much faster than my walking pace. 🙂
But, I digress.
For this recent lesson, I read verse 25 in the Christian Standard Bible, then in the NIV and the ESV and saw the same thing.
Galatians 5:25 in the Christian Standard Bible — “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
Galatians 5:25 in the English Standard Version — “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
Galatians 5:25 in the New International Version — “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
As a music teacher, the phrase “keep in step” brought a hundred pictures to my mind. Marching bands doing precision drills to the beat of the drum line, trying desperately to get Junior High boys to remember to start their choreography in the same direction, watching the string section of the Cleveland Orchestra moving their bows across their instruments in perfect unison with the conductor, and the dozens of piano students who sat at the piano in my living room valiantly attempting to keep up with the metronome.
How satisfying it is when everyone is keeping in step.
How chaotic it is when one or more fail to feel the beat.
When I think of keeping in step with the Spirit, the opening scene of many football games seems to spring to my mind — Players locked arm in arm bursting out of the tunnel determined to conquer the opposing team together.
I believe that keeping in step with the Holy Spirit will have far-reaching benefits:
- The Holy Spirit will sound the alarm when I sin.
- The Holy Spirit will teach me and remind me of truths I’ve been taught in the past.
- The Holy Spirit will guide me to people He is drawing to Himself and empower me so that I can share my testimony and give encouragement.
- The Holy Spirit will shape me and strengthen me to produce the fruit that He wants to see in me — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
- The Holy Spirit will live inside me and fill me with His presence.
- The Holy Spirit will be my Helper, my Comforter, my Counselor. (Yes, there are Bible verses to validate each of these, most of them found in the book of John).
Whatever speed He’s moving, that’s the speed I need to move.
Whatever direction He’s going, that’s the direction I need to go.
Whatever attitude He has toward others, that’s the attitude I need to have.
He’s waving the baton in a perfect tempo. Will I ignore it or will I keep in step?