This story tells of two friends who were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument. One friend slapped the other one in the face and the one who got slapped was hurt. But without saying anything, she wrote in the sand:
“TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE.”
They kept on walking and came upon an oasis where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but her friend SAVED her. After she recovered from near drowning, she wrote on a nearby stone:
The friend, who had slapped and saved her best friend, asked her:
“AFTER I HURT YOU, YOU WROTE IN SAND AND NOW, YOU WROTE ON A STONE, WHY?”
The other friend replied:
“When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand, where the winds of forgiveness can erase it; but when someone does something good for us, we must carve it in stone, so no wind can ever erase it.” Learn to write your hurts in the sand and carve your blessings in stone. ~ Author of story unknown.
LEARN TO WRITE YOUR HURTS IN THE SAND and CARVE YOUR BENEFITS IN STONE:
They say it takes a minute to find a special person and an hour to appreciate them; a day to love them, but an entire life to forgive them.
According to the apostle Paul, we have been FREED to serve, not ourselves, our interests but God’s and the interests of others.
“For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to FREEDOM; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through LOVE you should SERVE one another” (Galatians 5:13 AMP).
THE DANGER OF ABUSING OUR CHRISTIAN LIBERTY!
To some people, to be FREE from the Law meant that there was nothing standing in the way; of self-indulgence and a FREE REIN in sin. They will even try to support they’re FREEDOM with Scripture; using Romans 14 as supporting their motives without context. They understand the Law to be ONLY RESTRAINING the power of sin in individuals and the world.
In SALVATION God has brought the BELIEVER out from under whatever control divine Law had over them, placing him under superior control by the Holy Spirit. Out of one control to another; from the control of mere LEGAL LAWS into the control of a person, Holy spirit. SIN is something the world thinks as sin but how God sees it–does what you’re doing line up with the Word of God.
The Law becomes a SUBSTITUTION of the restraint of the Holy Spirit which brings disastrous results (Romans 7:7-13). It’s the Holy Spirit who gives FREEDOM; the POWER to LIVE the life God intended us to live.
OUR CALLING–Galatians 5:13a MSG.
“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use the freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom.“
Free “to do whatever you want to do.” FREE from what?
—FREE from God’s wrath:
“Therefore, since we are now justified (acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God) by Christ’s blood, how much more [certain is it that] we shall be saved by Him from the indignation and wrath of God” (Romans 5:9 AMP).
—FREE from mastery of sin~Romans 6:14.
—FREE from the dominion of Satan and his demons~Colossians 1:13; 1 John 4:3-4.
—FREE from living under the curse of the Law~Galatians 3:13.
—FREE from the condemnation the Law imposes to those who disobey~Romans 8:1.
—FREE from the Law as means of justification~Galatians 2:16.
—FREE from approaching God in terror and dread~Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:15-16.
Galatians 13b says, “and [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse”; in the King James version, instead of using the word “incentive” as the Amplified reads, it uses the word “occasions“. The meaning brings forth a military term: “a base of operations” from which to serve sin.
LIBERTY was not to be used as a spring-board to take off from the intention of sinning. Paul’s antidote against this is “through LOVE you should serve one another.”
“LOVE”–is agape…not human affection but divine love,…self-sacrificing love. Christian FREEDOM is not freedom to indulge in the flesh of self-centerness. LIVING FREE IS: not ignoring all restraints fulfilling any and all our desires. LIBERTY doesn’t mean that since we’re not going to hell [freedom in our spiritual asbestos suits]; that Jesus already paid for your sins, you can just do all the evil you want to do. Judaizers were saying without the Law, people become lawless.
OUR CHALLENGE~Galatians 5:13-14.
“For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept. You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself” (v.14-Amplified version).
The believer is no longer under the Law of Moses but the Law of LOVE. Warren Wiersbe says, “The amazing thing about LOVE is that it takes the place of all the Laws of God ever gave, ‘You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.’ It solves every problem in human relationships.
If you LOVE people because you LOVE Christ Jesus, you will not:
–STEAL from them.
–LIE about them.
–try in any way to HURT them; SARCASM by the way isn’t LOVE [I’ll discuss that later].
LOVE in the heart of man is God’s substitute for laws and threats:
“Keep out of debt and owe no man anything, except LOVE one another; for he who LOVES his neighbor [who PRACTICES LOVING others] has fulfilled the Law [relating to one’s fellowmen, meeting all its requirements]. The commandments, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet (have an evil desire), and any other commandment, are summed up in the single command, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. (9) LOVE does no wrong to ones neighbor [it never hurts anybody]. Therefore LOVE meets all the requirements and is the fulfilling of the Law” (10) (Romans 13:8-10 AMP).
GOD HAS LIBERATED US TO SERVE ONE ANOTHER:
The words, “liberty and servant” sounds like a contradiction. God FREES US to SERVE one another; not to take advantage; not FREE to hurt or destroy our brother and sister in Christ. God didn’t FREE US for that! He FREED US to be servants to Himself and others, where we find the greatest fulfillment in life. We have not been FREED to be self-indulgent, self-centered, nor self-serving.
The CONTENTIONS- (v.15a):
“But if you bite and devour one another”
The picture given by the apostle Paul comes from the animal world; wild animals in a deadly struggle. I found this quote from an unknown author in my searching this past week, “For wolves or dogs to worry sheep is not strange; but for sheep to distress one another is unnatural.”
Obviously, this was not a literal “teeth gnashing on flesh” conflict Paul was referring to. The church assembly was not literally biting and eating each others flesh! What I like to call it was, spiritual cannibalism; what they were doing to each other; cursing the brethren with:
And I’ve added the word SARCASM to the “doings of the flesh” (verse 19).
In my own spiritual growth to spiritual maturity , I had acquired the infamous ‘Badge of Sarcasm.’ To the point of throwing out my chest in response to the Badge. Then one day, my adult son emailed me a definition of the English word, SARCASM; for he knew as others did, I was struggling with the bad spirit. SARCASM had replaced the God-given LOVE for others.
SARCASM originated from the Greek word, sarkazo; “to tear flesh like dogs, to speak bitterly.” Could the Badge of Sarcasm been prevalent in the church at Galatia? Maybe, but I included the word to embellish the picture Paul gives to the Church of believers.
The results of the believer were, from them acting like wild beasts and what effect it was having in their communities; to their witness for Christ Jesus. Can you imagine; Christians today acting like wild beasts?
The CONSEQUENCES- (v.15b):
“be careful that you [and your whole fellowship] are not consumed by one another”
Everyone loses when Christians fight each other, there are no winners. Matthew Henry writes–
“Mutual strife’s among brethren, if persisted in, will likely to prove a common ruin; those that devour one another are in a fair way to be consumed one of another.”
Christian churches cannot be ruined but by their own hands; but if Christians, who should be helped, and a joy to one another be as brute beasts biting and devouring each other has CONSEQUENCES.
What can be expected but the God LOVE should deny grace to them; the Spirit of LOVE departs from them and that evil spirit, who seeks destruction of them all should prevail?
There Are Times To Fight:
When the fundamentals are at stake, we should be determined to stand and fight to the finish. But if it’s an argument over a non-essential issue, we have to LEARN to be SELFLESS and FORGIVING OF ONE ANOTHER.
Although the text that I have been sharing is from Galatians 5:13-15, I think it necessary to put my thoughts in context with an earlier verse of the chapter:
“For [if we are] in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything but only faith activated and energized and expressed and working through LOVE” (Galatians 5:6 AMP).
The HEART which is acceptable to God is not the one that depends on its works–whether right-wing circumcision or left-wing uncircumcision. But rather one which trusts so fully in God’s grace, the RESULT is a life of LOVE and JOY!
John Piper says it this way:
“LOVE is an essential part of the process of salvation. It is not optional whether you love one another. No one can say, ‘I am SAVED by FAITH regardless of whether I LOVE people or not.”
I think what he is saying is, LOVE isn’t a FEELING but a requirement of being saved in Christ Jesus. The only FAITH which SAVES is, “faith working through LOVE.”
FREEDOM OF FULLNESS:
Remember, we can only LOVE if we are set FREE. God has called us to freedom of fullness which overflows in LOVE. We were not freed to the SLAVERY of EMPTINESS; to bite and devour, never satisfied. In Jesus Christ, God offers us FORGIVENESS, daily help and guidance; hope for the greatest future imaginable. And IT’S ALL FREE! Purchased by the death and resurrection of Jesus, received by FAITH alone. The secret of LOVE is FREEDOM and the secret of FREEDOM is utter confidence in the LOVE of God.
Jesus loves me this I know, For the Bible tells me so.