OUR CHRISTIAN CALLING: ITS MEANING AND OUR RESPONSE TO IT Text: Galatians 5:13-17 Delivered at LCC church, August 29, 2010. Delivered at Tarlac church, December 12, 2010.
Galatians 5:13-17 • 13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.
14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
15 But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.
17 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 prevent you from doing what you would.
OUTLINE • CALLING.“You were called to freedom” (4:13a). • SERVING. “Through love be servants of one another” (4:13b). • FULFILLING.“The whole law is fulfilled in one word” (4:14a). • WALKING. “But I say, Walk by the Spirit” (4:16a).
First, THE CALLING. • “For you were called to freedom, brethren” (5:13a). • This was the calling that God did when we were in sin. • Paul says, “Ye were called to freedom.” • What does freedom mean to you?
To some it means freedom from debts and financial burdens. Why? Because someone paid your home mortgage! • Because someone paid your motorcycle mortgage! • Because someone paid for your children’s education! • Because someone paid for your wife’s eye operations!
To a student, to be exempted from the final exam is freedom from exam worries! • To a little boy, fatherly support is freedom from hunger and want! • To one who is supporting a growing family, getting an extra job or engaging in a business on the side is freedom from economic worries.
Paul says, “You were called to be free.” Free from what? The context says it was freedom from the law. What law? • The law that requires us to offer sacrifices of bulls and goats and sheep every year. • The law that requires us to make a trip to Jerusalem in observance of it every year.
Freedom from the law means freedom from observing a ritual that could not save. The blood of bulls and of goats could not take away sin (Heb. 9:12-13). • Paul says in Galatians that the law could not justify (3:11), that those under the law needed redemption (4:5). • He says that we are not the children of the bondwoman but of the free (4:31).
The Galatians had been taught by false teachers to be subject to that law again. • Paul said no! They were now free from that law! • True Christians were thus not in subjection to the law of Moses, or the Ten Commandments. They were free---free from the servitude of sin, free from subjection to expensive and burdensome rites and customs.
Second, THE SERVING. • “Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh”(5:13b). • Paul says, “You are free but do not use that freedom as an occasion for the flesh.” • The Greek word “aphorme” means “a starting point” for doing a thing, “an occasion” for doing it. • Don’t use that freedom as an opportunity to indulge in your fleshly desires.
Christians are called to liberty, but not liberty to fulfill their fleshly wants. • Christians are free, but it is not freedom from virtuous restraints from God’s eternal principles. • It is not freedom from the necessary restraints of virtue.
Rather it is liberty from serving sin, because from now on you are not under obligation to serve sin. • It is freedom from expensive and burdensome religious rites and ceremonies. • It is freedom that allows you to keep on doing good.
“But by love be slaves to one another” (5:13c). • Another reading says: “By love be servants to one another.” • This is an admonition to become slaves of one another and the instrument or basis for such an action is love.
The meaning is that we must strive to promote each other's welfare by the proper manifestation of love one to another. • Doing this act is not inconsistent with the freedom the gospel brings. • “When there is love, duty is pleasant, and doing all acts of kindness is agreeable.”
Hear the story of Fernando, who supported his friend Ferdinand’s family until his friend was released from prison ten years after. He had six mouths to feed from his friend’s family, plus seven of his own! This true love!
But hear the story of Fermin, who also supported three of his friend Doro’s family when Doro went to prison for killing an American. Fermin was single. When Doro came back from prison, he would not take back his wife Dora, because Dora had become Fermin’s wife! This is not love but sexual opportunism!
Christians are to serve one another like slaves. This means you serve him or her and he or she serves you too. • The manner of serving is that of pleasing one’s master, to avoid displeasing one another, and to repay each other’s kindness.
Thirdly, THE FULFILLING of the law. • "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself”(5:14) • It means that, by fulfilling the law of love, you are expressing through your action the substance of the whole law. • That loving action that you do embraces and comprises all intents and purposes of the law.
The apostle Paul here is saying that the law of love would counteract all the evil workings of the flesh; and, if this law were fulfilled, all our duty to others would be discharged. • If you love your neighbor, you would not sleep with his wife, for this will hurt him and his marriage. • If you love your neighbor, you will not steal his property for this will leave him and his children destitute.
If you love your neighbor, you will not gossip about him for this will destroy his reputation. • If you love your neighbor, you will not force him to give if he does not have the ability to do so, and anathematize him if he does not give. • Masarap pa rin ang kapeng kusang ibinigay, kaysa kapeng sadyang piniga mula sa wallet!
“But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another”(5:15). • Paul uses the word “bite” here, and it means properly to bite or to sting. • In the context, it is here used in the sense of contending and striving--a metaphor probably taken from dogs and wild beasts. • We bite one another by gossiping about each other. If we do so, we are like dogs!
“And if you devour one another. As wild beasts do. The sense is, "if you contend with each other." • The reference is, probably, to the strifes which would arise between the two parties in the churches-the Jewish and the Gentile converts.” • If we contend with each other, we are devouring one another like wild beasts do!
“Take heed that ye be not consumed, etc. As wild beasts contend sometimes until both are slain. • Thus the idea is: • In their contentions they would destroy the spirituality and happiness of each other. • Their characters would be ruined. • And the church would be overthrown!
“The readiest way to destroy the spirituality of a church, and to annihilate the influence of religion, is to excite a spirit of contention” (Barnes' Notes on the New Testament).
Have you seen two dogs fight until they killed each other? • When we gossip and argue with each other, when we slander and libel each other, when we backbite each other, we too will consume each other! • The way to treat a person who hurts us is to ignore him, not to answer him, but to pray for him, and to forgive him.
A Story About Forgiveness • Diabolico and Bonito were walking in a forest. They were arguing. Suddenly Diabolico picked up a stone and hit Bonito on the head. Bonito just looked at his friend, wiped his bloodied face, and wrote his friend’s sin on the sand. • They kept on walking. Then Diabolico fell into a quagmire and shouted for help. Bonito stretched out his hand and slowly, inch by inch, pulled his friend. • Diabolico sat down, scraped the mud on his face and asked: “Why are you doing all this?”
Bonito said: “I wrote your sin on the sand because I know the winds will blow it away. If I wrote it on stone, I might often remember it. Some years ago I stabbed a man and as he lay dying there he wrote my sin on the pool of his blood. And before he breathed his last, he hugged me.” • Bonito paused for a moment: “I pulled you out because I have forgiven you. I pardoned your little sin because someone pardoned me for my big sin.”
A LETTER FROM A FORMER ENEMY • Dear Ed, • I am bowled over by your offer. Stunned. The reason it took me so long to reply is I do not know what to say. You did something I never expected in a million years. No one here in the Philippines has ever displayed such kindness and generosity to me… • Your offer is just amazing and I want to thank you for that. You changed my heart about you in one instant.
I'm not worthy of your generosity, brother. Maybe you believe like I do, that Christian education is important for our young people. I sense that you do believe that wholeheartedly and is the only reason I can think of that you want to do this free of charge, and because you love the Lord. I can only say "THANK YOU, BROTHER."
Once again, I apologize for my shortcomings as a leader and manager. Thank you for overlooking them and wishing to continue your help to us without pay, like the Apostle Paul preaching the Gospel "without charge." I know that what you do, you will do it as unto the Lord. I know your abilities, without question you will do a wonderful job. May God bless you, brother. Thank you again.
Lastly, YOUR WALKING in the Spirit as you go through life. • “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh” (5:16). • “Walk. The Christian life is often represented as a journey; and the word walk, in the Scripture, is often equivalent to live.” Thus, to walk by the Spirit is to live by what the Spirit dictates.
This means living under the influences of the Holy Spirit, • admitting those influences fully into your hearts, • not resisting him, • but yielding to all his suggestions as found in the Word of God.
If a man would yield his heart to those influences, he would be able to overcome all his evil propensities. • If he resists that Spirit, he is overcome by the corrupt passions of his nature. • There was never was a better, safer, or a more easy rule given to us to overcome our corrupt and sensual desires than that here furnished by Paul in Galatians!
He who is being led by the Spirit produces fruit the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23). • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” • This means sacrificial love for God and for man; the kind of love that holds the object of its love in high esteem and admiration. • The love that is expressed to the unlovely, the unloved and the unloving, seeking the best for them (Rogers & Rogers, 431).
“The fruit of the Spirit is… joy” • This is referring to joy that is grounded on a right relationship with God (Rogers & Rogers, 431).
“The fruit of the Spirit is… peace” • Peace here is referring to the wholeness of soul which issues in a tranquil disposition regardless of the outward circumstances of life (Rogers & Rogers, 431).
“The fruit of the Spirit is… longsuffering” • “Longsuffering” describes the response of Christians towards circumstances and events, his patient endurance under injuries inflicted by others (Rogers & Rogers, 431).
“The fruit of the Spirit… is gentleness” • This is referring to one’s kindly disposition, goodness, and concern toward his neighbors; a kindness that expresses itself in sympathy toward others (Rogers & Rogers, 431).
“The fruit of the Spirit is … goodness” • It refers to a generosity that springs from the heart that is kind and will always take care to obtain for others that which is useful and beneficial (Rogers & Rogers, 431).
“The fruit of the Spirit … is faith.” • This means faithfulness, reliability, loyalty to God and to His word (Vine’s).
“The fruit of the Spirit is … meekness.” • Meekness is referring to gentle submissiveness, controlled strength, the ability to bear reproaches and slights without bitterness and resentment (Rogers & Rogers, 431).
“The fruit of the Spirit is … temperance.” • Temperance is self-control, self-restraint or the holding of passions and appetites under control (Rogers & Rogers, 432).
IN CONCLUSION • Calling. Remember that you have been called to be free. • Don’t be slaves to the law, to the doctrines of men, to the rites and ordinances that replace God’s law, God’s doctrine, God’s ordinance.
Serving. Christians are to serve one another as they also serve God. Serving here means becoming a slave. • We are to honor and please one another. Let us avoid displeasing one another. • There is no master among us; only Jesus is our Master. When we please one another, we also please Jesus.
Fulfilling. By loving one another, and becoming slaves to one another, we are fulfilling the true intents of the law. • We fulfill that law when we offer even a glass of water to the man who is thirsty or a piece of bread to the hungry boy.
Illustration • There was that little boy I saw at Avenida Veteranos in Tacloban City early one morning one month ago. His two hands were outstretched, his arms so thin like he had not eaten for many days. “Where is your father?” I asked. • “He went to Manila.” “Looking for a job?” I ventured. • “No, he left my mother.” • “I won’t give you money,” I said. “What I have is enough for my gasoline.” • “Just one piece of bread.” His eyes were focused on the Dunkins I had just bought. • “Thank you so much, Sir.” His voice was weak but the two donuts I gave him vanished in a wink. He was really hungry!
Walking. Our walking should be characterized by the walk of one who is being led by the Spirit. • Our acts must express the spirituality created in our souls and minds by the Spirit who lives in us. • We walk by faith and not by sight. We walk by thinking about the rewards we will receive from God in the future, not the benefits we will reap from men today.