Yesterday the Bible Reading Challenge had me reading the entire letter of Galatians which sounds like a lot but it’s six relatively short chapters that are just jammed packed with rich truth. As usual, no matter how many times I have read something before there is always something to glean…sometimes not even brand new truths but something that just adds to the fullness of my understanding. Here are a few gems and the ponderings they produced.
Chapter 1:15-16 ~
But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult anyone.
Paul goes on to say he actually waited three years before returning to Jerusalem to meet Cephas and it would be another fourteen years before he would return and really get into the thick of things with the other Apostles and believers.
My take home was a gentle reminder to not blurt out every thought and rush off willy nilly and get busy but to take some time and stew on what God is doing and what He would have me do.
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Emphasis is mine and I cannot tell you how heavy that landed on me. If we are living lives that look no different than the unbelieving neighbor beside us then how can we dare ask them to live any differently and why should they?
Everything we do should be different because everything we do is done to the glory of God and with an eternal purpose. Our marriages, our child rearing, the way we are educated and educating, the life we live must be lived in such a way that Christ is revealed. I mean at first glance we may look the same but as we enter into relationships with people, as they get to know us, they ought to become curious about why we seem just a bit different, why there is something they may not quite be able to put their finger on but they know we aren’t the same. It will be something about the means to the end of disciplining our children, the way we love and honor each other, the way our Sabbath is enjoyed, the way we handle our money, the way we forgive, the way we deal with stress, the way we help others. There should be a thousand different ways we live out our ordinary lives that will show we believe Christ is King over all.
But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be know by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
Just a good solid reminder to keep guard over my thoughts and not allow old habits and ways of thinking to creep in.
Seriously, the whole chapter. But this little verse…
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Have you ever been out of step with someone you were supposed to be in step with? Stumbling around and so clumsy. It’s not easy to fix without coming to a complete stop and starting again. So that is my prayer; when I realize I am out of step then I want to stop what I am doing and get in step with the Spirit. I don’t want to fumble around tripping over myself trying to make our steps align. I just want to match my stride with His.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
It is so very easy to have a higher opinion of ourselves than we ought, isn’t it? I don’t think we deliberately set out to think better of ourselves than other people but it is just so much easier to assess those over there, to make judgement calls on their behaviors and actions. Assumptions are second nature to us, assuming that we would never ever do what so and so has done but shifting their sins through our perspectives and coming to a conclusion that we know their story.
In I Corinthians 10 we are told take to heed when we think we are standing lest we fall and then moving in to chapter six of Galatians we are told to restore a fallen brother with a spirit of gentleness lest we be tempted. That spirit of gentleness only comes through the humility of understanding the darkness of our own sin, of using God’s perspective on sin as opposed to our own sliding scale of right and wrong.
For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Oh Lord may I put pride far from me!
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
And lastly, this little gem. Don’t give up but keep persevering in the faith, keep loving each other, keep doing the right thing even when it seems that no one else is or no one is benefitting from it or seems grateful for it.
Serve each other. Love one another. Seek forgiveness. Forgive each other. Encourage. Laugh with the one who laughs and weep with the one who weeps. Do all the things you can do for the good of those around you and don’t stop, keep loving them in thought and deed. God promises to grow something that gives an eternal harvest when we stay faithful in this way.
And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.