I've been mulling over Galatians for months now. I really should stop being a prideful poop and pick up a bible study or something on it. I hate bible studies though. There I said it, I hate them. I do like looking up commentary and mulling over people's perspectives but bible studies generally seem too contrived for me. I often feel manipulated by them. The author is trying to lead me to his or her conclusions rather than the Word sitting there and growing and dwelling. I know that's not the heart of most and in my snobbish approach I miss out on greatness but even if I don't feel manipulated it often feels like busy work and I don't like busy work.
Well that was an obnoxious diatribe just to say I have been chewing on Galatians for awhile. I've been mulling over the circumcision party but been missing chapter six. Here in lies the whole enchilada and what Paul is trying to drive home to these Galatians.
"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted."
Galatians 6:1 NIV
In my flesh I LOVE to point out the flaws of others. There are times when we should love someone enough to lovingly point out their sin but I love Paul's warning: watch yourself or you also may be tempted. The temptation is arrogance. I love to be arrogant. I love to be arrogant about other people's arrogance. My flesh takes great delight in being better than others or rather thinking that I am better than others. This arrogance, this belief of having mastered the law or being better than somebody else is the yeast of the Pharisees. I am so great and these other people are so not and I don't know when these other poor idiots are going to ever get it or get with the program. It just takes a little yeast to grow a huge hideous beast. Oh how intimately I know this struggle. I hate it. If arrogance was a visible tumor I'd cut it off but it's cancerous cells are everywhere and at times they grow unchecked and eat away at the soul. At times I wish the Lord would squeeze it out of me even if it meant crushing me entirely in the process.
"Carry each otherʼs burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
Galatians 6:2 NIV
I think the church does well to carry each other's burdens in sickness and in crisis. I think it struggles at how to do this when the burden is a sin or a sin struggle. There's grace in theory but I think in practice it's lacking. Stumble once or twice okay but you better get your crap together because there's not much grace for continued stumbling. How do we not continue to stumble except by truly bearing one another's burdens? I think in my wrestling with the church and how it's handled the LGBTQ movement / population I think there has been a lack of bearing one another's burdens. It's been easy to minimize the struggle to heterosexual lust and not willing to fully understand the depths of the struggle. Let's pat our gay friends on the head but not get in the grueling battle with them. Let's not help hold up their arms. Really to be a non practicing gay Christian has to be insanely lonely. Those who truly get the struggle shun you and those who are your brothers and sisters in Christ don't fully get the loneliness and the battle. I hear the obnoxious echo of "you are not terminally unique". I get the motivation in saying that but often I think it's just another way to not have to really care and get in the sewer pit with another brother or sister. Who wants to really get in the nitty gritty of truly bearing one another's burdens? It's easier to cook a meal or send some platitudes "God won't ever give you more than you can handle". It's hard to sit in the cess pool of sinful struggle and the agony of true grief. It makes us uncomfortable. It makes us feel inadequate. Who wants to enter Lazarus's tomb when he's been rotting there for days!? Nobody but Jesus and He does it and He wants us to enter that tomb of death with others too. He wants us to hold up the arms of another even if they are covered in the pig feces of their own sin and consequences. Damn this is hard. I can't even do this well with my own kids. But for Christ...
So strange how the sermon at church tied in so well what I wrote this morning. I wish I had my notes but I'm too lazy to get them. Oh how the word favor came alive today. Favor, chosen for no other reason except for grace. We so desperately want favor! I so desperately want favor. It's why it's so easy for me to fall into the trap of pride and arrogance. Look at me! Think I'm something! Tell me I matter! Somebody like what I say and think! Desperate for favor and yet I have been bestowed such favor. The only favor that truly matters is not enough and so I try to puff myself up and set myself up as king and able to earn righteousness through the work of my own hands. Why do I strive to earn favor when I've already earned it?
Today the pieces fit as I've pondered what it means to walk in the spirit. Paul speaks of this in Galatians but it was echoed like crazy today...
"And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God."
Luke 1:35 ESV
The Holy Spirit will come upon you. Through the power of the Holy Spirit a virgin can become pregnant, the dead came come to life, the barren aged couple can give birth, the impossible can be done.
Back to Galatians....
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."
Galatians 5:16-18 ESV
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
The so what???
It's JUST STOP IT!!! Stop trying to seek favor, earn favor, be somebody, yada, yada, yada. Cease the striving. Stop trying to get better, get your act together, stop sinning, stop being a mess, etc.
I have FAVOR! I've been declared RIGHTEOUS and I have absolutely no reason to boast what so ever. I have been extended grace simply because He loved me and chose me. If this is the case then why do I keep trying to get right with Him and do things right out of the flesh? I can't do it and it always leads me back to here:
"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
Galatians 5:19-21 ESV
If I don't end up here then I end up an arrogant asshole saturated in the yeast of the Pharisees. That yeast taints everything. It may look more together but it's not living out the gospel and it lacks so much.
So what do I do? I stop it and I get out of the way and embrace the grace wholeheartedly knowing I am utterly lost without it. When and only when I get out of the way I can indeed walk by the Spirit and the impossible can be made possible simply because of His grace and favor.
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