Walk in the Spirit

Galatians 5:16. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

Someone recently asked me, “Why don’t I seem to care about God?”  The answer is so simple, yet so difficult. It is because she is not in the Word. We cannot expect to walk in the Spirit if we never communicate with Him. If we push the Bible away, we are pushing God away. After a while, there is no behavior that we won’t indulge in. We fulfil the lusts of the flesh because we are not feeding on His Word.

Walk in the Spirit.  Let your daily activities and behaviors be controlled not by how you feel at any given moment, but by the truths in the Word of God. How you feel is completely secondary to what is true. Our emotions are governed by what we believe to be true. Emotions change. Truth never does.

Walk in the Spirit by being in the Word. You don’t have to be a world-famous Bible scholar. All you have to do is dust off your Bible and open it; read a verse or a few verses, or a chapter. Pray for understanding.  Pray for the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. Job 23:12.

When we walk in the Spirit, we will not give in to selfish, fleshly desires.

Bite and Devour

Galatians 5:15. “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”

My little granddaughter has some chickens.  Her daddy built a coop for them, and she’s responsible to feed and water, and to collect the eggs.  She loves her chickens.  Sadly, one of them sickened and died a while back, so last week she got two more.  And now, she’s learning something new about her treasured pets.

Chickens are not kind.

They like their pecking order.  The older two are making life difficult for the younger two. They’ve established the pecking order, and they intend to keep it.  It’s going to take human intervention if the two new ones are going to get any food or water.

They could quite literally peck each other to death.

And we’re not much different, are we? The Bible says that the world will know we are Christians by the way we love one another (John 13:35).  We’re not always doing a good job of loving one another, are we?

I don’t have to agree with  your theology on every single point. We can even enjoy different kinds of music, or dress differently when we attend church. Loving you doesn’t mean I have to love everything you do.  I don’t have to approve of your unbiblical lifestyle, but I don’t have to hate YOU! In fact, we may not be able to have much fellowship together over the Word because of our disagreements, but we don’t have to act like chickens who are establishing their pecking order and protecting their turf.

I may even need to point out your error, just as Paul confronted Peter publicly (Gal. 2:11-13). But I don’t have to hate you. We can speak the truth in love. We can let our speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt.

Otherwise, we may be guilty of eating each other up, just like a flock of brainless chickens.

Love Thy Neighbor

Galatians 5:14.  “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Doing an image search for this one was a real education.  Everyone with an agenda has taken this simple command of God and used it to support his own philosphy of life. It’s really not that complicated, folks.

We are to love God supremely. After that, we are to love others in the same way we love ourselves.  Keep in mind that Paul quoted this verse in the context of Law vs.Grace.  He is teaching here the lovely simplicity of grace, as compared to the complication of living one’s life by the letter of the law. Simple.  Love God. Love others. Boom!  That’s it!

And here’s something I’ve pulled out of this concept in the last few years.  In my work, there is a great emphasis on self-esteem.  “Love yourself,” goes the psychobabble wisdom, “And then you’ll be able to love others.”

The thing is, God makes it clear here that we already do love ourselves. It is implicit in the statement.  Think about it.  If I am to love others the same way I love myself, then I must indeed love myself!

Here’s what I tell people, gently and carefully, The real problem is not lack of self-esteem.  It is our frustration that others don’t think as highly of us as we want them to, or at least our perception is that others don’t know or appreciate how terrific we really are!

Again, think about it.  If a person is ruminating on how much he hates himself, who is the center of his thinking?

There you go.  Satan is crafty, and our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked.

We need to get our eyes, our thoughts, our focus, off of ourselves just for a few minutes, and take a look at the world around us.  We already love ourselves. Let’s not worry about that one any more, and think instead about how we can, in Christ, begin to love others the same way we love ourselves.

Friday Counseling Issues: Arrogant People, part 4

More and more, I hear myself telling my clients, “You have to learn to let it go. Don’t rent space in your head to junk.  You can’t change the other person, but you can change the way you react to him. Know who you are, understand your own value and worth, and learn to let Miss Arrogant’s rude and self-centered attitude and comments slide off of you. She will only bug you if you allow yourself to be annoyed.

Say you’re at a party, and an arrogant person is introduced to you. He’s going to go through the usual niceties, and you’re probably going to ask him a question about himself. After that, you won’t have to say much. Instead of allowing his arrogance to annoy you, just listen patiently.  It’s surprising how often these people really do have interesting things to say. When you reach the point of “had it!”  it’s easy to simply tell him how much you’ve enjoyed meeting him, but that you just saw someone you really need to chat with, and graciously move on. Don’t worry about hurting his feelings.  He’ll soon be boasting to someone else.

But what if you work with Miss Big Shot?  What if you have to spend time listening to her bloviate about her own merits?

Get really busy. “I’m sorry, I’m going to have to interrupt.  I need to see several other members of the team today.  You take care!”  And off you go, looking extremely pressed for time. If all else fails, get on your phone with someone and make it clear that you can’t be interrupted. You really don’t have to be held captive by someone who understands no one else’s worth but her own.

Do you ever have to simply be rude? Probably.  But when that happens, I try to be as politely rude as possible.  Smile. Say, “Well, much as I hate to end this conversation, I have a long to-do list today.  ‘Bye now!”  And then walk away. One thing you don’t have to worry about is offending that person, or hurting his feelings.  He gets over it pretty fast.

Does it ever work to tell a person that he has no friends because he is arrogant, boring, annoying, and full of himself?

Probably not.  He’ll just figure you’re too much of a cretin to understand how wonderful he is.

The bottom line here is to never allow these people to ruin your day. Smile.  Be polite. Excuse yourself when you’ve had enough.  And don’t waste time and energy thinking or talking about how aggravating they are. When you do that, you’re allowing them to control your thoughts and emotions, and giving them way more time than they deserve.

An Occasion to the Flesh

Galatians 5:13.  “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty:  only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

If you are a believer, you are called to liberty and grace. Be careful, however, that  you don’t mistake license and liberty. Sometimes, believers are accused of using their salvation as a license to live however they please.  Sometimes, they are guilty as accused.

The thing is, if we are truly born again, our desire is going to be to live for God.   We are to use our liberty and grace to take the opportunity to serve one another humbly and lovingly.  We are free to love, since we have been so greatly loved.

Salvation is not just fire insurance. Sure, it frees us from eternal damnation in hell, and that’s a wonderful thing.  But  when a person is truly a child of God, there is a heart change. The desire to live for self begins to be less attractive.

I saw a meme recently that I believe was a quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Here it is:

I believe the holier a man becomes, the more he mourns over the unholiness which remains in him.

There is the liberty!  The liberty from the chains of unholiness, not the liberty to live an unholy life.

The Offence of the Cross

Galatians 5:11-12. “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.”

“If I were to preach the circumcision, do you think I would be persecuted, as I am now? If I preached legalism, no one would be offended. But I can’t do that.  It wouldn’t be true to the calling which God has given me.”

And what does he mean by the offence (scandal) of the cross?

It was a disgrace to end one’s life by dying on a cross. It was a Roman punishment, designed to be as horribly painful, humiliating, and degrading as possible. The Roman philosopher Cicero said,  “The cross, it is so shameful it never ought to be mentioned in polite society.”

Yet the Son of God died on a cross. How shameful!  Surely this Jesus, a rabble rousing nobody from Nazareth, couldn’t possibly be the Messiah Who would deliver Israel.  His contemptible death on a cross proved He was nothing more than another crazed zealot who would become a distant memory very quickly.

Paul is saying to the Galatians that, if they embrace legalism, they are setting that cross aside, making it nothing. And that idea upsets him so much that his next words are “I wish they would cut themselves off that trouble you, because they pervert the gospel of Christ!”

Paul’s Confidence

Galatians 5:10. “I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you chall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.”

Because Paul knew the Galatian believers from the beginning, he has confidence that they will see the error of their ways and return to the truth.

And then, a dire warning for the deceivers who have tried to turn them away from the gospel of grace:  They will  bear their judgment, whoever they are.

They are false teachers. There is much said about false teachers in the scripture, and their end is not good. Look at  2 Peter 2:3-5.  I would not want to be in the place of false teachers on their judgment day!