Monday, 11 November 2019

Burden bearing

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6.2

This is an interesting passage about burdens. In another verse we read that every man should bear his own burdens and in verse two we read that we should bear each other’s burdens.

Really though it is pretty simple and pretty practical.

The word of God is clear. He does not want any of us to be a burden to others because of our laziness to deal with our own needs. God expects us to work and do what we can to meet our own needs and burdens relying on Him.

There are times though that our burden just gets too heavy and we can’t do it. It is those times that we need to look out for each other and share those burdens. Jesus knew that when we told us to let Him help carry our burdens. It is those times that we must be aware of the needs of others and be there to help them carry their loads. Bearing those burdens fulfils the law of Christ when He tells is to love other. We are also told to love others as we love ourselves. We should carry our own loads, but we also must love others enough to help them carry their loads.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Don't provoke each other

Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. – Galatians 5.26

Right after the description of the fruit of the Spirit we have this short little list of instruction that apply some of the aspects of the fruit. I can easily miss this section because it comes after such a ‘famous’ passage.

Let’s not be conceited
Let’s not provoke each other
Let’s not envy each other

All of these concerns are based on pride. Pride makes me conceited. Pride makes me provoke others so that I can look better. Pride makes me envious. It can be kind of ‘fun’ to get a rise out of someone. It can make us feel better about ourselves. It takes the focus off of us.

Provoking another is childish. Some children just seem to take great joy in getting a response out of another. This is more true that even with the rise of social media. Everybody like a good fight it seems. So much of what I see on Facebook is Christians picking and prodding at each other. That may be a bit of fun for a while, but rarely do we know when to stop and someone always gets hurt.

I played a stupid game with my friends as a young adult. We would ‘discuss’ an issue or ‘debate’ as we liked to call to call it. It seemed like harmless fun but in retrospect I am not so sure. The rule was that if you responded with an insult you lost the debate.

I am not convinced that there is no profit in provoking a brother to anger to the point where he resorts to personal attack.

Our purpose is to edify and build each other up.

Don’t provoke. It wont do any good and only has the potential for harm.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

The fruit of the Spirit is...gentleness

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit… Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. – Galatians 5.22-25; 6.1

Somehow, at least in the circles I have been involved in for a good chunk of my Christian life, gentleness is one of the least mentioned fruits of the Spirit. I have spent a lot of time learning how, men especially, are supposed to be tough. The mark of a man is what a tough guy he is. Men who are gentle are often looked as with suspicion. I once was talking to a pastor about how much I appreciated another man and the pastor I was talking to said some about ‘oh, that limp wrist.’

I know we are supposed to be soldiers and warriors and athletes in the faith. I know we are to part of the army of God and to earnestly contend for the faith.

Jesus called Himself gentle. The servant of God must be gentle. The requirements for pastors includes gentleness.

Not too long ago a razor company did an ad which attempted to present this aspect of true manhood. It was lambasted on many fronts, including a lot of Christians who felt like it downplayed the toughness required of a ‘real man.’

I thought though that they had a point. The ‘macho’ man, the tough guy, and the bully type are the men who seem to be admired and elevated. It would be bad enough if it was just the world, but the church has adopted that same attitude in many ways.

Of course ‘men must be men’ and we have a masculine role in society. We do have to fight the good fight of faith and we do need to be strong.

But at the same time there does need to be a gentleness about us. One of the characteristics of a pastor is that he must not ‘be a brawler’ looking for a fight. The fight may come, but godly men are not to be looking for the fight.

I think gentleness and meekness go hand in hand. Meekness has been defined as ‘power under control.’ Just because the power is there doesn’t mean we always have to use it. The Holy Spirit shows Himself through us  in a gentle, loving, compassionate life.

Friday, 8 November 2019

The fruit of the Spirit is...faithfulness

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. – Galatians 5.22-25

It is required in a steward that a man be found faithful. Success is not a fruit of the spirit – faithfulness is. Faithfulness is certainly a fruit of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.

Faithfulness is not always easy. It is especially tough to be faithful when we don’t see visible success in our ministries. I think all of us always want to see more in the way of physical, visible signs that what we are doing has value. The west is a success driven society. We measure people by how much they do and how well they do it. I don’t think it is a bad as it used to be but I remember a newspaper that listed the top 10 churches by attendance, professions of faith, and baptisms. They gave the impression that big numbers are what matters to God.

God though is not impressed by that. Man might me and we always want to look good in front of others, but in reality one thing really concerns God – are we faithful. Do I have the faith required just to keep on keeping on no matter what I see?

No matter what our circumstance God wants us to keep on going no matter what the circumstances. Don’t get weary in well doing. Don’t lose heart. Just keep on keeping on. That will show us that we really trust the God that we say we will trust.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

The fruit of the Spirit is...goodness

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. – Galatians 5.22-25

When I was in Scouts all those many years ago part of the Scout oath were the simple word ‘to do good.’ Doing good and being a ‘good person’ is something we take for granted. It is another one of those words that somehow doesn’t seem as important as some of the other things.

Am I a ‘good guy?’ Is that how people think about me? Do I go about doing good for God and for others?

Being good is something kind of intangible. Goodness, like kindness, is hard to measure. Some words the dictionary uses are ‘to be desired or approved of, pleasing and welcome…’

If I just use those words as a standard how do I do. Am I the kind of man that others approve of just because of my goodness? Am I pleasing to others and am I the kind of guy that people want to welcome into their lives.

We need never to be offensive, but good. The gospel we preach is going to offend, but we never should. We are to live such good lives that our lives never turn people of from the message we preach.

Like I said, it’s hard to define – so let’s just be good.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

The fruit of the Spirit is...kindness

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. – Galatians 5.22-25

In our Kids Klub we have one simple rule. It makes it easy because all the kids know all the rules. What is that rule?

Be nice.

It’s great because it is kind of all encompassing and suits every type of activities. It means be nice (Ai am using niceness and a synonym for kindness) to the teachers and other kids and the people who take care of the building and visitors. Bing kind means that we do things to make their lives better.

Kindness is the same in ‘real life.’ It is one of those  traits that we can manifest from the very first time we meet someone. It is something we can do with complete strangers. We can even do it driving our car and being polite to other drivers.

I don’t always get a chance to share Christ on my first encounter with people. I may do something as hold a door open, or step aside and let them go first, or smile, or say a kind word, or any number of things. Many folks who aren’t even Christians have adopted a motto is ‘pay it forward’ where we just do an act of kindness and when someone is kind to us to pass that one to someone else.

If the world can do that, shouldn’t we do it even more?

We can all be kind – and that could make all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

The fruit of the Spirit is...longsuffering

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. – Galatians 5.22-25

I don’t do patience very well. I don’t wait very well, I certainly don’t like the idea of longsuffering. I, like most people, want what I want and I want it now. I want to be at the front of the queue. I don’t like being put on hold.

That’s fine and we just have too get used it. What is really hard is to wait on God when He doesn’t take care of things according to my schedule. We get tired of being under pressure and it can seem like we just can’t buy a break.

That is when we get the sense of this word for patience – long suffering. It means bearing up under pressure. It is not like that waiting in a queue that I hate. It is much more than that. It is when our lives are a constant pressure that seems to squeeze the life out of and the kind of darkness that we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is especially  for our brethren in Christ who suffer real threats to their lives day another day for their faith in Christ. How many of them must cry out in the sleep ‘when will this sever end?’

That’s when our long-suffering is really tried. That’s when we must depend on the Holy Spirit to help us bear this fruit. It is also one of those times where people watch us to see how people who say they trust God do when the pressure is on.

I have to stop and check myself here. Dos this fruit of the spirit show this evidence by life? We are told that we are known by our fruit. Does my ability to ‘bear up under pressure’ reveal my faith?

Lord, help me reflect this spirit on long-suffering in my life that I might better reflect You.