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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Beware the vice of fear

It can destroy the Spirit's work

A spider worked overtime in my garden, spinning an intricate web anchored firmly on hedge, gate and post. The dew covered it with diamonds. So the Spirit anchors us firmly in the world.

Nine dispositions tether us to God, to neighbor and to self—supporting a web of relationships. Love, joy and peace link us to God. Where these surface in our lives, God works. The reverse is also true: Where God works, these dispositions surface.

The next strands—patience, kindness and generosity—ground our relationships. As we interface with others, we lean on the everyday love of kindness, a generosity fueled by the sense of joyous surplus and the long-tempered character of peacemaking patience.

Finally, the Spirit shows us our best selves in the virtues of faithfulness, meekness and self-control. Placing faithfulness here reminds us that infidelity also destroys the soul’s integrity. Meekness holds in check a power that could destroy others and shatter the self. Self-control turns all our relationships back to God, letting love pull us into a divine embrace. In these nine habits of the heart the Spirit binds us to relationships with God, neighbor and self—just like the busy spider in my garden.


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