Welcome to ReCreate Ministry. Our mission is making and growing authentic followers of Christ. Yesterday, I started noticing that some of the trees in the area have begun to grow their leaves back. I always look forward to this time of year. Things start turning green, the weather gets warmer, and the days get longer. Despite being born in December, I definitely think I was meant to be a child of spring. I just love this time of year. It makes me come to life, almost in the same way some animals come out of hibernation at the end of winter. Similarly, being around people brings me to life. I’ve always naturally been an outgoing person, so I gain energy from being around people, especially the people who I’m closest to.
This week, we are closing out our series called Set Free, and we are talking about loving others. In Galatians 6, Paul applies freedom to our relationships. Now, loving people can be difficult sometimes. Bob Goff says “Love everybody always, and start with the people who creep you out!” That’s a difficult thing for most of us to grasp, but if you read through Bob’s books, you’ll find that he has spent his entire life living by the motto of love everybody always. Loving people can get messy. It can get ugly. It means taking a risk. It even means putting your heart out there with the possibility that it might get broken. C.S. Lewis said “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life where having a heart that is unbreakable has seemed pretty appealing to me. I have loved, and I have given everything I had to someone only to have them return my heart to me in tiny, broken pieces with no manual on how to put it back together. It’s not fun, but Jesus doesn’t call us to love people so we will have fun. He calls us to love them because it’s the best way for us to point people to Him.
We’re going to split this week’s text into two sections, as it deals with two different things, and I will give you two applications for this week’s message as well. Galatians 6:1 – 5 (NIV) says “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.” My first point is this:
My community group meets fairly regularly, and once every few months, we discuss our strongholds. It’s always a very difficult and emotional time, but it’s something that I’ve really grown to appreciate. One of the reasons for that is that I know that I am never going to struggle alone. Regardless of how bad things may seem, there are always people who are checking on me, praying for me, and encouraging me. James 5:16a (NLT) says “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Scripture tells us that we are to be accountable to one another, and that we are to lift one another up in prayer. The enemy loves it when we are isolated, because we are an easier target. Have you ever seen the way lions hunt? They don’t attack the large groups of whatever it is they’re trying to kill. They try to isolate one, because it is in that isolation that their prey is weakest. Our enemy uses the same tactic to try to destroy us. He loves it when we are alone, because we are easier to pick off that way. When a believer is surrounded by other believers who keep them accountable, that believer is more of a threat.
I love the way The Message paraphrases Galatians 6:2. It says “Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete God’s law.” The best way for us to show Christ’s love to others is to share each other’s burdens. If you look back at the early church, they shared everything. None of them kept anything for themselves, but they gave all that they had in order to help others. The Greek word for community is the word koinonia, which means “the share which one has in anything”, but another way of putting it is “Christ connects us.” Now, there are many different types of communities, and not all of them involve Christian fellowship, but all of them share some common interest. The job of a community is to hold one another accountable, to pray for one another, to encourage one another, and to share each other’s burdens. Acts 2:42 – 47 (NIV) gives an example of that when it says “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Most of us have had people who we looked up to let us down. No one is perfect, and no one ever will be, but we as believers are still called to a higher standard of love. John Calvin said “Whatever a person may be like, we must still love them because we love God.” Now, that’s not always an easy thing for us to live out in our daily lives. It’s hard to love the truck driver who pulls out in front of you and continues driving 15 miles under the speed limit in the left lane, the lady who gets your order wrong at Starbucks, or the customer service rep for whatever cable company you use when they overcharge your account, but we’re still called to do it. 1 Peter 4:8 (NLT) says “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” Those are hard words to hear, especially when we’re angry or hurt. It’s hard when it’s the truck driver, but what if it’s the abusive parent, or the manipulative wife or husband? What if it’s the person that violently took away your innocence without your consent? What do you do then? Mark 11:25 (GNT) tell us “And when you stand and pray, forgive anything you may have against anyone, so that your Father in heaven will forgive the wrongs you have done.” We are still told to love those who have hurt us. I can say from experience that it is not an easy thing to do, but if we are ever going to be truly free, we should also be free from any bitterness or hatred that we have towards others.
Galatians 6:6 – 10 (NIV) says “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” My second point is this:
As much as I hate to admit it, I have a tendency to be a bit of a selfish person, mostly with my money. I would love to argue that it’s just because I never have much and I know how hard it is to come by, but the truth is that, even in times when I’ve had plenty, I still tend to hold onto it with a fairly tight grip. Paul shows us here how grace frees us to share financially with others. In verse 6, he tells us that we MUST share our financial resources with our spiritual leaders. Now, I don’t want you to think that I am asking for your money here, because that’s not what this message is about at all. The truth is that pastoring and teaching are time-consuming, and Paul tells us that we are to be supportive of those who make a living in this way.
Paul also gives us this promise, that we will reap a great reward if we do not grow weary of doing good. There have been many times in my life where I have begun to lose hope after working hard at something for a long time without seeing my work bring any reward. Most of us have probably had jobs or situations in life where we have worked hard at something only to realize that our work is not being recognized. Whether that’s coming from a boss, a parent, significant other, or even a child, it can still be painful. Part of loving people is making yourself open to disappointment. Victor Hugo said “To love another person is to see the face of God.” There have been times when I have felt like giving up, but Paul reminds us that our diligence will produce results, and that God promises to reward those who are faithful in the long run. Loving, helping, encouraging, praying for, and supporting others is one of the best ways that we can live free. Let’s thank Him for that.
I thank You for loving us. I thank You that You have given us the ability to love others, that You have shown us what it is to love people where they are. Lord, I’m thankful that You have put people in my life who love and encourage me, and even call me out when it is necessary. I pray that You would surround Your people with a community of believers who would encourage them, hold them accountable, and continually pray for them. Most of all, I thank You for Jesus, and it’s in His Name I pray.
Next week, we will be starting a new, 5-week series called Next Steps. We will be talking about what it means to be a follower of Christ, and what we are called to do as followers. If you don’t have someone in your life who encourages you, prays for you, and keeps you accountable, I pray that you would reach out to us. We would love to partner with you as you continue to grow in your faith. Maybe you’re not even sure what any of this means, and you’re wanting to know more. If that’s you, please reach out as well. We would love to help you take that first step, and we will still partner with you and walk with you in your journey. Have a blessed week!!!!!