V 17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
How very easy it is for any of us to get caught up in ‘keeping the rules and regulations’ that we feel are the expectation in Church! The ‘I must …’ or ‘I ought ..’ can become a burden. In the Church where I grew up as a young Christian there were quite definite expectations of behaviour; I won’t go into them here but those who have been Christians for a long time might well remember. In the early days of the Church there were expectations; you shouldn’t eat this, or drink that, and these expectations became a burden. So Paul has to remind them that following Jesus and walking in step with the Holy Spirit wasn’t a question of just keeping negative rules, but rather of ‘living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’
Every now and again we might well get negative feelings about Church life – feeling we have to attend meetings, undertake certain duties which must be done, or give financial support for recommended courses of action. We might even hear folk say ‘I’m really busy, but I really ought to …. ‘ Now if we feel that is a human expectation – laid on us by others – then it is just possible that we are missing the freedom and delight of life in the Spirit. Of course, the Holy Spirit does also call us to action sometimes, and we have to learn to distinguish between human expectation and pressure and promptings of the Holy Spirit. There is no charter for laziness or a selfish life, but be assured that God’s desire is for us to enjoy our relationship with him and to experience the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.