Void Where Prohibited

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You know what "the fine print" means, don't you?

It's that ridiculously dense paragraph you find on coupons or contest notices, usually in a font so tiny you need a 40X magnifier to read. Or, in the case of TV or radio, it's those 853 lightning-fast words they rattle off in the last four seconds of a commercial.

Often called a disclaimer, it's the detailed listing of every conceivable circumstance in which whatever you want to do—whether it's to enter a contest, get 82% off your purchase, or obtain multiple items for the price of one—can somehow be disallowed. Adding insult to injury, they're usually written in legalese, a language most of us don't even speak!

The disclaimer I find most puzzling, though, is "void where prohibited." It makes me wonder what possible circumstances would make it illegal for me to, say, win fifty bucks or to finally attain that Holy Grail of fast food: five giant Bubba Burgers for a dollar? How could something so innocuous be so wrong? Is there some vast shadowy organization out there whose sole purpose of existence is to prohibit folks like me from getting a good deal?

Rules and Regulations

There's no doubt about it, my friends; life is all about rules and regulations. Do this; don't do that—it's a full-time job keeping track, isn't it? The irony is, even if you can get all you want—of whatever it is you're after—you may find, like the kid in the candy store, that too much of a good thing really isn't so great after all.

But what if I could point you toward something that is never void, and never, ever prohibited? That's right; you can have as much as you want! Wouldn't you be interested? If so, then read what the Apostle Paul wrote in the fifth chapter of his letter to the Galatians:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Gal. 5:22-23; emphasis mine)

The Fruit of the Spirit

So what exactly is the fruit of the Spirit?

Perhaps best described as character traits of the Spirit-led Christian, they are positive, desirable qualities God desires to produce in us as we grow in him. Here's what I find most amazing: we don't even have to develop them ourselves; he promises to grow them in us, if we'll just follow him.

It's no accident that Paul uses the metaphor of a fruit tree; it's a beautifully clear picture of how God grows these qualities in us. After all, have you ever seen an orange tree strain mightily to produce an orange? Of course not! It's an inherent characteristic—orange trees, when planted in good soil, just naturally produce oranges.

The fruit of the Spirit comes about in the same manner: Christians who live and grow in Christ just naturally produce fruit. It's the way he made us!

Alas, the truth of this passage painfully smacks me in the face. Do I personally exhibit these characteristics in my daily life? Do the folks I work with know I'm a walking fruit stand? Do I bless folks around me by my words and actions? And even beyond the workplace, what about folks I encounter at the restaurant, at the corner store, or at the garage?

Note, too, how Paul points out "there is no law" against these things. That's good news, because it means here is something for which there is no fine print! You won't have to drag out a magnifying glass, break out your legal dictionary, or even listen closely so you won't miss anything. When it comes to the fruit of the Spirit, you'll never have to wonder if they're "void where prohibited."

It begs the question, though, doesn't it? If all we have to do is let God do it, then what's stopping us?