Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3378

Jump Start # 3378

Galatians 5:15 “But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another.”

 I grew up watching some great boxing matches. Ali was the greatest, at least he thought so. But outside the boxing arena, fighting is ugly. We see this in politics with name-calling, character assassinations and mud slinging. Much too often we see this in the home. Instead of peace, there is turmoil. Instead of a haven of rest, it’s a battle for survival. Dysfunctional and wicked hearts can say the cruelest things to one another.

  Our verse today takes fighting to let another place, among the brethren of God. I see in this verse the images of zombies who bite and eat the living. I doubt the Holy Spirit had that in mind. Rather than fighting the enemy, the Galatians had turned on each other. All the enemy had to do was sit back and watch the churches fall apart.

  I have seen the spirit that wants to destroy each other. Usually folks leave, and they leave upset and angry. Often, another congregation is formed. The two congregations do not acknowledge one another nor will they have anything to do with each other. Some would rather see a person return to the world than to go and worship with “the other group,” as they refer to it.

  Some thoughts:

  First, the differences that caused the differences is lost in the emotions of trying to hurt the other person. Biting and devouring are not love taps. They are intended to destroy. Why can’t brethren sit down and talk? Why is it that pride keeps us from apologizing? Why is it that with an open Bible we can’t set before us what the Lord would want us to do?

  Second, when there is a civil war taking place within the congregation, focus, energy and other efforts are all centered on defending your position. Evangelism halts. The glory of the Lord is forgotten. Worship becomes tense and stressful. Shepherds become weary. Preachers get discouraged. Sadly, when we turn on each other, we tend to toss God’s word out the window. Gossip, slander, malice and evil surmising is justified because of what the other side said. Deeper and deeper we sink in the pit of trouble.

  Third, calm voices need to be spoken and a reliance upon what the Lord would have us to do must be uttered. There comes times when a stake must be put into the ground. Here is the hill that we will die on if necessary. We stand with the Lord.

  In the home, when the kids are fighting, it’s time for dad to step in, break it up, practice discipline and get everyone calmed down. In the church, when we get out of line, we may need to be disciplined. Certain things are not acceptable in the home and certain things are not acceptable among brethren. We would not tolerate any deviation in worship, yet, much too often, we look the other way to the slanderous things brethren say to one another. That should not allowed.

  Lincoln was killed just days after the American Civil War ended. But he was asked how he planned to treat the South. His response, “As if they never left.” Olive branches, love, forgiveness and grace gets one through those tough periods of fighting. Families go through it. Congregations go through it. Stay the course with the Lord.

  Fourth, the only one who wins when we devour one another is the Devil. He loves it when we do his work for him. The enemy is Satan. He seeks to kill and destroy, the Lord said in John 10. Keeping that before us ought to help us in how we treat one another.

  There are sprinkled throughout the country small struggling congregations that ought to consider merging with a nearby congregation. But decades ago, something happened. People left. And, now in the same small community, two struggling congregations, trying to heat and cool separate buildings, and with every funeral they become smaller and smaller. Maybe it’s time to get out the peace pipe and come together and become one larger congregation.

  The biting and devouring has generational consequences, that can lead to eternal consequences. Maybe it’s time we locked arms and went after the real enemy, the devil.