“For you, brethren, have been called to/for freedom (ἐπ᾽ελευθερίᾳ); only do not use freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (Gal 5: 13-17)
This passage is all about the bondage of self-seeking “lust,” which can deprive me of the freedom of self-offering, Spirit-filled “love.”
The “Spirit,” that is, the Holy Spirit, is the God of Love, and also the God of Freedom. That means that He loves us, so He reaches out to us, in His love. But He is also free, because He is not Self-seeking, but rather Self-offering. So, He is not “needy” of us, in the way that merely-human, Spirit-less “lust” is needy of being fed, like a consumer, by others (of us), because it is self-seeking, and oriented toward satisfaction of the self. So, the Holy Spirit still loves us, even when we do not love Him back, because He is free, through and in His Self-offering.
My take-away, from this revelation of God’s approach to us, is this: I need to turn things around, if I’ve been “lusting,” rather than “loving.” I need to ask what I can give to, rather than what I can receive from, any person I may have singled out as an object of my “lust.” But I can’t do this, really, if I’m deep into the whole business of “lust,” without the grace of the Holy Spirit. So let me appeal to Him today, if I’m entangled in the frustrations and neediness of “lust,” and re-connect with God and His Self-offering love. Let me hand that whole mess over to God today, and let Him absorb it and transfigure it, liberating me in His grace. Let me “let go and let God,” if that is what I clearly need to do. ”Thy kingdom come,” I say to Him today, as I take a minute for some heartfelt prayer, and “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen!