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We’re going to be reading in Galatians chapter 5 verses 7 through 16 today. I’ll give you a second to turn there, if you have your Bible. Course I won’t give you too long since this is a podcast, and most people these days have the Bible on their phone so it shouldn’t take that long.
Alright, you ready? Let’s read this. And, by the way, while we read this I want you to consider what Paul is saying here.
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Now, Let me ask you this question. When you heard that being read, what were you focused on the most? In other words, what would you say the meaning of these scriptures are?
Did you think it was talking about not being under the law, and therefore have no fear if you sin?
Did you think it was saying that we should NOT commit sin?
Or maybe you focused on the little leaven, and the not obeying the truth part?
I want you to really think about what you felt, what came to mind during the reading of this passage. I want you to remember it because we’re going to bring it back up a little later.
What I’m about to share with you is something that took me years to learn. In fact, it took a lot years, and it took a lot of tears too. It wasn’t until God broke me that I became so enamored with this. God literally had me on the floor, curled up in a ball, with tears in my eyes, begging him not to let me speak his word again. I begged Him to let me just die instead of doing that. And, I went through a lot of pain. And, I did that so that I could learn this lesson.
You see, when I came to Jesus, I didn’t do it with half of my heart. I dove in head over heals. You know what that feels like? Of course if you don’t, I have to tell you that you have missed out on the greatest thing you could ever know.
There is a reason people die for the faith. It’s because what they have in them is worth far more to them than their own lives. I hope that if you haven’t come to Jesus, repented of your sins, and begun to follow Him that you will today.
But while this message is directed mainly at Christians I think you may find it to be helpful for you as well. At the very least, it may give you an understanding of why we can be so stupid, crazy, and mean to each other at times! And yes Christians, I did say that. I’m not against you, don’t think that. But, you know in your heart of hearts that is true. But, we can be like that at times.
But you see, the more I walked with Jesus the more I found myself seeing through His way, through His eyes. What I enjoyed before in sin became something that was detestable to me, while what I thought I could never enjoy, righteousness, … well righteousness became a wonderful thing to me.
There isn’t anything wrong with that. Now, I’m not saying that I never sinned again. What one part of me loves the other part hates. And, I know that that sounds like a contradiction to some people, but if you have ever done something that you thought was good and then felt guilty afterwards then you can understand what I’m talking about.
But with the ability to see the sin in my life also came the ability to see it in the life of others. Now, What do you think I did about that?
If I hated the very sins I committed, then I also hated their sins. I was full of zeal, full of passion for doing right. I felt that everyone needed to know Jesus just as well as I did. And what did I know? I knew that God hates sin, and while He loves us, He still hates sin. And, that’s true.
And so when I looked at this passage that we read above I would focus on the words “Who has hindered you that you should not obey the truth? A little leaven leavens the whole lump!”
Did you catch that when I was reading it before? Is that what you latched onto a moment ago? You know, we expect people that don’t follow Jesus, … we expect them to sin. They are going to be ignorant of the scriptures, and they are going to do what they do as unrighteous sinners. And so, we look at them and see someone who needs to be saved, and we look at them with love and compassion. And somehow or another, we are able to, sometimes at least, overlook those things. Because you see, we understand that they already know that they are in sin. And so, it wouldn’t really matter for the most part if we tell them they’re in sin. It doesn’t matter, that’s not what they need to hear, they need to hear that Jesus saves from death, the grave, and hell.
But, it’s a different story with church people. It’s a little different with sister Holier than thou, and Pastor Giveme. It’s a little different with those that have already come to Jesus. We DON’T expect them to act like the rest of the world. We don’t expect them to be ignorant of the scriptures. We don’t expect the sin that is so obvious to us.
So what does a zealous person like me do? He grabs his belt and tries to beat it out of them. He argues with them about the meaning of scriptures. He begins to think that HE should be in charge. After all, he loves God, and he loves the truth so much and really all he is trying to do is teach them and show them the right way, out of love!
And, sometimes love does have to take a belt to someone. Sometimes it has to be “mean” and harsh. I grew up in the south and we, … we use the belt there. It’s common. And, to this day I still believe in a good old fashion whipping. But there are limits.
You see, I have been around people who whip their kids every chance they get. You know what typically happens? Nothing. It doesn’t correct anything. Sure, sometimes it does for those kids that don’t really get the belt often. But when you swing that belt as your first option then that kid is going to learn a few things, and none of them are going to be good.
So how can you correct a child? How can you correct church people? You can either beat them over the head over like you would beat a child with a belt, … and I’m sorry for using the word beat. That’s probably a little too harsh because if anyone were to hit a child, … you better have some control. You better not hit that hard. All you want to do is get their attention. “Hey, … don’t do that!”
You don’t want to hurt them, not really. You know, they used to say this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you. And, if that isn’t true you’re doing it wrong. But you see, with church people I tried to use the whip. I tried to beat them over the head with the scriptures until they got it. Or, you can talk to them in love like you would a child with a firm gentleness, and you can explain the error and which way is best for them. You don’t always have to use the belt. In fact, to be honest, most of the time you don’t.
If they still don’t get it then you give them some time to learn on their own. It’s only after they have gotten way too far out of hand that you need to bring out the belt. And even then, it better hurt you more than them!
In my zealousness I tried to use the whip. I fooled myself into thinking it was loving. But while my intentions were good, I was driving the very people I hoped to help further away.
“YOU DON’T UNDERTAND THIS SCRIPTURE SO YOU’RE A FALSE TEACHER, AND A LIAR, AND NOT A CHRISTIAN!” I’m not the only one who has said these kinds of things.
But, just as there is a limit to corporal punishment with a child there is a limit here. Where should that limit have been?
“You don’t understand the scripture.” Maybe this is true. Maybe they really don’t. There is nothing wrong with explaining things to someone. But, then came the words, “You’re a false prophet, a liar, and not a Christian.”
Let me ask you something, … should a parent disown a child if they don’t agree with them? Of course not, that’s going too far.
But, what happens to the person who is so zealous that everyday is a fight to get something through to someone? You get tired quickly. I did. You begin to think, I’m the only one left that’s following God.
Look back at verse 15 again. Just take a look at it and think. Your zeal, your passion, my passion, has just consumed you and me, placed a shell around us, and isolated us from one another. I may have just disowned you, because I said, “You’re not a Christian, you’re a false prophet,” just because you may not understand something. And, you are sincerely trying. But, I may have just disowned you, and you may have disowned me.
What started with good intentions ended with biting and devouring one another. Why?
I have put a sticker in the cover of my Bible, it’s to help me, and it reads, it’s ok if they don’t believe it now. They will all believe it one day.
And I’ve had to look at that sticker several times, and It serves to remind me that even I had to change some of the things I once believed. Even I fought to the end to prove what I believed was right, only to later discover I was wrong.
Who has hindered you that you should not obey the truth! Do I, do you, does any of us understand all truth?
What I’m trying to tell you here is that we can’t go into every situation looking for something wrong. Because the Bible says, “Seek and you’ll find.” When you’re looking for something wrong you’re going to find it.
And, the lesson I learned when God broke me, curled up in a ball on the floor asking to die, is that there will always be work to do. There will always be those who need to learn. There will always be the Christian who hasn’t quite grasped the idea of holiness.
You see, I felt such an urgency and rush to get as much work for God done as I could. And there in that moment, the pain was so great that I felt alone, and I felt useless because all of my fighting did nothing. Everything that I was working for, … I looked up and saw the field and I saw everything that still had to be done, and I thought to myself there is no possible way! And, I’m trying as hard as I can, and they’re not listening. And, I asked God, please don’t make me speak your word again. And while I knew that I wouldn’t be able to help but to speak the word of God again I cringed at the thought.
Elijah had a moment like that too. “I’m alone. I am all that’s left who serves God!” That’s what he said. He was depressed, in a cave, and ready to die. But, God told him that there were thousands who still served Him.
This is what I want to tell you, if you’re a zealous Christian like me. You’re not the only laborer in the field. Look to your right and you may see a brother trying to harvest some wheat, but he doesn’t know enough to use the right tool for it. So, what do you do? You tell him how to improve. You say, “Here, use a sickle.” But, if he refuses, thinking he knows a little better even though he doesn’t, then what do you do? You don’t beat him over the head. He’s responsible for his own work. You just laugh and remember that you and he are accountable to God as individuals.
And consider this, “To whom much is given, much shall be required.” You see how little he has done, but what he has been given he’s used. Sure, he has the right tools, but does he have the ability to understand and use them, even if you try to teach him sometimes? So why would you, why would I, require more of him than God will?!
I had to learn to keep my mouth shut at times when I hear something that is wrong from other Christians. It’s like a kid telling you that the clouds are made of cotton candy. He doesn’t know any better, but is he really old enough to understand that?
Is he old enough to understand the process of evaporation, how the clouds hold the water. No, all he knows is it’s cotton candy, and he will argue with you, and have you ever argued with a two year old?! They will win every time, even if their wrong!
What am I talking about? I’m talking about having compassion and patients. Sometimes we have to walk away from the argument and let the other person grow up. Sometimes we find out that we need to grow up.
Knowing what battles to fight is the mark of a really mature leader. So what is this scripture trying to tell us here?
It’s telling us not to expect anyone to be sinless, or without error. It’s also teaching us that while that may be true it doesn’t excuse sin. And finally, it teaches us that being too hard on someone, or even ourselves can destroy them and us, while being completely passive is also just as harmful.
There is a balance. We have to understand it. Is this person that we’re speaking with really an enemy? Or, are they just having a hard time understanding things and need to grow up a little bit, and maybe it’s going to take someone else to help them do that? Maybe God is going to have to work on that one.
Let’s learn to pick our battles. Let’s learn to see our brothers and sisters through the eyes of God who knows so much more than they do, … yet He gently leads them into all truth. And, catch that. He leads them. They haven’t made it into all truth yet, they’re being led. And, it may take them a little while to grow up.
Let’s learn that it’s ok if they don’t believe it now, … they all will believe it one day. So instead of fighting your co-laborer in God’s field let’s give our advice and move on with OUR job, rather than trying to do THEIR job. Because honestly, when we try to do both of our jobs, … for one, it’s not what God intended, and for two, it’s not something you’re equipped to do.
I want to thank you for listening to this podcast today. Other than the very first test that we made, this is the very first one that we’ve done, and I really do hope that it’s been of help to you, … that it’s maybe encouraged you to trust God that He’s the one who knows what you need to be doing, He’s the one that knows what your neighbor needs to be doing, and He’s the manager of the field, not you.
And I hope that this message will inspire you to take an inventory of your own self, and just consider the conversations you get into everyday. Is it always a daily struggle? Is it always a fight? Do you not know when to let go? Well, these are things that sometimes it takes time to learn. We do need to learn to pick our battles though.
I want to ask you one other thing. We do have a website, it’s onthelineministries.com, and you probably already know that. But, I just wanted to let you know. And, if you would, go ahead and visit that site. We have a lot of bible studies, and what I’m most proud of is our Christianity 101 course, which basically takes you through all the foundational principles that’s in the Bible. And, I really hope that you’ll be blessed by that. Go ahead and head over there, and go on ahead and sign up on our email list too. We send out updates with new studies, and we also send out other inspirational messages. So I hope you have a wonderful day and God bless.