Jump Start # 2618
Galatians 5:25 “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
Our verse today reminds us that we are a Spirit driven people. To live by the Spirit but not walk that way is inconsistent. It would lead one to question our position and our faith. It’s easy to talk a good game, but one must show it by their actions. Sitting in a church house, surrounded by fellow believers is a comfortable setting to discuss the golden rule, fruit of the Spirit, the good Samaritan, turning our cheek and loving our enemy. Now doing those things is much harder. It’s much harder the next day when we are not surrounded by fellow believers. It’s much harder when all around us are those who do not walk that way.
The following verse in Galatians states, “Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” The immediate platform of “one another” are the fellow Christians. Don’t push be the one who causes tension in the flock. Don’t stir things up. Don’t be a trouble maker.
Boastful: arrogant, pride, “I’m better than you,” or, worse, “you have change, because I said so.” Boasting about what I did and reminding you of what you didn’t do. Boasting about how great a Christian I am. Boasting about how blessed I am. Boasting doesn’t set well. It’s rude, unbalanced and stirs things up. Those without the Spirit boast. They have to. They don’t have anything else but themselves to lean upon. Disciples of Jesus have the Lord. There is no need to put folks down, look down at others, or feel that we are better than others. This is not about race, education, or status. This is all about walking by the Spirit.
Challenging one another: don’t confuse this with motivating others. This is emotionally pushing someone. It is questioning them. It is making them defend and prove themselves. This naturally follows boasting. Not only are these folks pounding their chests, believing that they are something great, but they are pushing the other guy down. Challenging is aggressive. Challenging puts the other on the defensive. Challenging forces one to prove why they are worthy to be with the others. Challenging creates tension within the flock.
Envying one another: this is where pride ends up. This is where being challenged puts you. You wish you were on the other side. You wish you were like the boastful. You wish you were the one challenging, not being challenged. You envy others. You want what they have. You wish you could be like them. You are not, but you wish you could be. You’d like to be included. You’d like to be at the top. But you are not.
Most of us can remember those three words, boastful, challenging and envy, as we walked down the high school hallway. Bullies roamed those hallways with their little pack following them. Loud. Arrogant. Challenging. Picking on those who were alone, different and unsure.
But Paul’s words are not addressed to a high school setting. He is talking to a congregation of God’s people who are supposed to be walking by the Spirit. Tension within the flock causes some to drop out. It makes some feel that they are never accepted or part of the group. It’s often hard for someone new to fit in. Those that have been around won’t let that happen. They control the fellowship. They call the shots. This can go on for years and years. A person feels like they have to earn their place among those who are truly leading the church. It’s not the shepherds who are guiding the flock, but the boastful, challenging ones who are not walking as they ought to. Not from the right family, or not from around that area, or didn’t go to the right schools, and a person can be treated as a perpetual outsider. Never included. Never invited. Rarely talked to. Ignored often. Ideas never considered. A fellowship in name only. The congregation becomes a “old boys’ club” that if you don’t fit in, you’ll never fit in.
We want to say that those things do not exist, but they do. It happened in Corinth. It happen among the Galatian churches. It was felt in Jerusalem. A growing church faces the problem of having everyone get along. New faces and the old regular faces have to accept, love and work together. In Keller’s masterpiece book on Psalms 23, he names a few factors that will harm sheep and among them are tensions in the flock. The church can’t have ‘bullies.’ We all must humbly walk with our Savior. No one is too good for Bible classes or coming to services. No one can say, “I don’t need to come.” That boastful spirit is what causes tension.
How do we get along? How do we smooth out the tension?
First, spend time with each other. Include those you do not know well. Broaden your circle of people you talk to, invite over, and do things with. It’s hard to fit in when the same ‘ole always includes the same ‘ole.
Second, listen. One common characteristic of pride is that the person likes to talk. He likes to dominate. He controls the conversation, the direction of the conversation and who is allowed to talk. Let the air out of that big head and allow others to talk. Realize that they may bring a perspective, an experience, a life lesson that you don’t know about. You can learn from others. We all can.
Third, walk by the Spirit. Those were Paul’s words. That’s what God wants. Walking by the Spirit will cause us to settle down, accept others, and find our proper place with the Lord.
Tension is unsettling. It is like stretching a rubber band. You know before long it will either snap and hurt or it will simply break. The same is true of congregations. The best thing one can do is to make sure you are doing what you ought to be doing. Are you walking as God would want you to? Are you loving the people that God loves? Are you helping or are you part of the problem?
Tense times, reminds us that we do not have to be a part of the problem.