MVC 394FFor the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)

After preaching in Ivory Coast, I was invited to the pastor’s house for the Sunday meal. He led me into a Liberian refugee settlement. We ducked through the doorway into his shack made from scraps of wood and tin. The impoverished people of the earth are often the most generous. 

The pastor’s wife served the West African staple of garri. It’s made of cassava roots that are ground, dried, and later boiled into a mush thick as Play-Doh. Garri is tasteless and hard to swallow unless there’s something to dip it into.

My hosts also served a stew of greens with morsels of meat. We pinched off each bite of garri, dipped it in the delicious sauce, and gulp, down it went.

The kingdom of God is about righteousness, peace, and joy, but these staples must be dipped in an anointing of the Holy Spirit. Righteousness is never satisfied with my performance, it sticks in my throat and won’t go down. The peace and joy I generate are so tasteless they never touch me inside. Without the Holy Spirit, the Christian life is impossible.

The reason Jesus cleansed us by his sacrifice was to fill us with the Holy Spirit. We get tangled up over the signs and gifts of the Spirit, but the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—can’t be counterfeited. They are living proof that Spirit filling isn’t an optional Christian add-on, it is Christianity.

When I dip righteousness under the Spirit’s leading, doing good tastes marvelous. I crave helping others and practicing honesty. I grow insatiable for truth and self-sacrifice. Without warning, peace and joy fill my mouth.

The kingdom of God is not about food and drink, but it is about staples that taste delicious with the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Spirit of God, flood my heart with your righteousness, peace, and joy.


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