March 2, 2012

Responding to the sin of others

This morning I asked the Lord to give me something concerning the behavior of others. Normally I do not do that, yet this time I am perplexed. I don’t know how to think about things that I see happening, nor how to pray for these circumstances (which are not appropriate to describe in this blog). 

Almost every time I’ve asked God to speak about a specific issue, He amazed me by using the devotional reading for the day to do so. Today is no exception. This passage, for me, is a challenge, but also a faith-builder.
Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:6–10)
Those who sit under a Bible teacher are commanded to share all good things with their teacher. What does this mean? The next verses are my clue. Good things are the result of walking in the Spirit. A spiritual person will be sharing the life of Christ that is in them with others, including their teachers.

This is the opposite of behaving from fleshy motivations. The flesh is selfish, wants what it wants right now, and is concerned with temporal matters rather than eternal. The Bible describes the works of the flesh as everything from gossip to murder, unkindness to lasciviousness. All that the flesh does is sinful and corrupt.

On the other hand, the Bible also describes the works of the Spirit. One list is given only a few verses before this passage. It adds that those who are following Jesus will put to death all their fleshy passions. Unless this is done, the Spirit cannot bear good fruit in their lives.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22–24)
As I read and reread these verses, I see that some of what concerns me is indeed fleshy behavior. It is not from God as there is no evidence of spiritual fruit in it. If that is not sad enough, the Bible says that those who live in this way will reap the consequences. Selfish living cannot produce godliness or eternal results, only more corruption. If things do not change, disaster looms ahead.

On the other hand, those who do good (good described as bearing spiritual fruit) will also reap the consequences. Their lives will produce the fruit of the Spirit, evidence of the eternal life that is in them. The Word of God encourages people who crucify the flesh and follow the Spirit to persevere for they will see eternal results.

For me, the last line is my instruction. As God gives opportunity, I am to be a Spirit-filled person with everyone. I am to do good motivated by those spiritual attitudes that come from Him, paying particular attention to His people. Not everyone who believes is walking with Him at all times. Some fall into fleshy decisions and actions. When they do, they might need someone to challenge them and restore them (Galatians 6:1). I could offer such correction, but right now it would likely be from frustration. I could also spout condemnation, but both of those responses would make me fleshy too. This is not Your instructions for me today. Instead, you are telling me to trust You to deal with them — and not fall into the same fleshy way of life.

Father, managing my own life is challenging enough without trying to manage the lives of others. Yet I needed Your help with this today. I am deeply concerned about the way some of Your children are behaving and You are telling me that they will reap what they sow. My role is to let Your Spirit control me in everything that I do. I have no control over others and this time must let You deal with them in whatever way You decide is best. These are sorrowful words, yet at the same time also a comfort. I need to trust You. Increase my faith.

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