Be This, Not That

Take your Bibles with me again and turn to Galatians 5. We basically wrapped this chapter up last week, but we have one verse that is going to lead us right into chapter 6.

Before we even look at it, I want you to read one verse in Galatians 5 with me that really seems out of place. Look at verse 15:

”But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”

Right here, in the middle of talking about walking in the Spirit and living with the fruit of the Spirit, the Apostle Paul warns us about what can happen when Christians don’t follow the Spirit - they can bite and devour one another.

My kids have gotten into a pretty good stage. They play together pretty well most of the time. But every now and then, Noah will really want something that the girls are playing with, and he’s start screaming at them, and then Molly will chase Noah around the house, and inevitably, if we don’t step in, someone will end up getting either hit or bit. And it’s always something silly. Like a lego set or a TV channel.

That’s childish. It’s silly. It’s sad. And here Paul is warning us that churches can act like a bunch of squabbling children. They bite and devour one another. They consume each other. It’s ugly.

I heard an old preacher say “To dwell above with saints I love, O that will be glory. To dwell below with saints I know, now that is another story.”

Sometimes churches can get ugly. Christians can squabble with each other.

Now I read all of that, because the verses we are reading this morning are kind of a continuation of that thought. It’s like Paul started talking about problems in church, took a break to talk about the fruit of the spirit and the works of the flesh, and went right back to church problems again.

Let’s read Galatians 5:25-6:5

”[Gal 5:25-26 KJV] 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”

”[Gal 6:1-5 KJV] 1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.”

Notice something, Paul goes right from walking in the Spirit in verse 25 to fighting and squabbling with your fellow believers in verse 26. And I think the reason he does that is because one of the hardest places to actually walk in the Spirit and show the fruit of the Spirit is in your relationships with other people.

Now, before I go any further, let me just say something that the scripture assumes, that isn’t very obvious to modern church going people: The New Testament assumes that you are going to have a very active relationship with your church family. A lot of modern church goers think of going to church almost like going to the movies, it’s just a place you go. But that’s completely absent from the New Testament.

In the New Testament, there are tons of what we call the “one another” passages. They are passages about how you relate to your church family. And they make absolutely no sense if the only time you see your church family is on Sunday Morning once a month.

This assumes you’ll be together a lot, that you will “do life” together, that you will be more of a family than just a club.

So how are we supposed to act, in the spirit, to our fellow church members.

Just to help you remember, I’ve taken these verses and made three “be this - not that” statements.

Let’s pray and we’ll get into it…

Look again at the last verse in chapter 5:

”26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”

Now, look at verse 2 of chapter 6 (we’ll get to verse 1 in a minute)

”Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

The first thing I want you to see from these verses is that if we are walking in the Spirit we should…

1. Be a servant, not a star.

Verse 26 starts by saying “Let us not be desirous of vain glory.” What does that mean? Vain glory is applause, it’s popularity, it’s position. It’s desiring to be at the top, to be recognized. And it’s something that we are commanded not to want.

You shouldn’t want to be the star of the church. It’s not a place to shine. It’s not a place to stand out.

I’ve got to tell you, I fell into this trap when I was younger. When I went to church, I got dressed to the nines because I was putting on a show. I took every opportunity to sing or lead or preach that I could, not out of a desire to minister, but out of a desire to shine. I loved to hear how good I was.

Vain glory.

And when you are chasing vain glory, do you know what happens? You roll over other people. You get in competition with each other. You provoke.

Do you know what that word means? It means “to challenge to a combat or contest.” Church becomes a competition - can I be a better singer than that guy. Can I be a better teacher than that guy? Can I dress better than those people.

Not only do you compete with others you envy each other. You look at other people and think “Why do they get to get so much recognition? I’m better than that preacher. I’m a better singer than that person. Why do they get the limelight.”

Church - this kind of mentality is so subtle and it’s so, so wicked. Hold your finger here and turn with me to James 3.

James 3:13-14

”Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.”

This is talking about teachers here, people that actually have spiritual wisdom to teach. And notice what it says, it says that if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not.

This is a direct parallel to what we just read in Galatians. Envying is wanting what someone else has. Strife is a competitive mindset.

Look at the next two verses:

”This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

Do you want to really mess up a church? Fill it with people who want glory, who can’t stand to see others do well, and who have a competitive mindset in church. It will tear the church apart. The church will become a circus. It’s a bad deal.

We don’t need stars in church. That’s not what church is about. We don’t need more talent. We need more Christlikeness. We don’t need more amazing preachers, we need more Spirit-led preachers. We don’t need more knock the house down soloists, we need humble ministers of Christ.

Don’t be a star, be a servant. Don’t be desirous of vain glory, don’t be competitive, don’t be envious - instead do the total opposite of that, bear each other’s burdens.

You see this in the disciples. In the gospels, the disciples were constantly jockeying with each other for position. Two of the disciples even had their mom go to Jesus and ask him to have her two sons be on his right hand and left hand in the Kingdom.

And what did Jesus do? He said

”But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:” (Matthew 20:26-27)

In another passage Jesus took a towel and He got down on the ground and he washed his disciples feet. Why? Because He wanted to teach us that it’s not about being a star, it’s about being a servant.

So how about you? Do you have a “star” mentality or a “servant” mentality?

Be a servant, not a star.

The second “be this, not that” statement I want you to see in the Scripture this morning is…

2. Be a cautious restorer, not a contentious rebuker.

Look at Galatians 6:1 again

”Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

Now this is totally foreign to modern church goers. I mean this verse seems like it comes out of left field.

What this verse is telling us to do is to meekly, and carefully help our brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling with sin, and try to restore them to fellowship and service.

But it’s telling us to be careful, because there is a great danger here. Whenever you are talking about other people’s sin and other people’s failures there are a couple of dangers:

First, you can become self-righteous, and have the wrong end.

Notice the word “restore” in this verse. It’s an important word. One of the temptations that we can have when it comes to dealing with other people’s sins is we can want to just get rid of them. We can think, we don’t want that kind of sinner around here. They’ve blown it. They are off the team.

That is never to be the spirit of dealing with sin.

The New Testament lays out this process that we call church discipline for confronting sin. If someone is in sin, you go to them privately, if they don’t here you, you bring someone else, if they still won’t hear you, you bring them before the church. The church can also put people out, we see an example of that in the book of 1 Corinthians where Paul commanded the church to put out the person who was having an incestous relationship with his stepmother.

But the goal is never to get rid of people, the goal is to restore people. The goal is to bring about repentance. Even in the case of the man in that wicked relationship in 1 Corinthians, Paul told the church in 2 Corinthians to go bring him back. It was about repentance and restoration.

Listen folks, we all have the same disease. It’s called sin. I’ve got it. You’ve got it. It might manifest itself in different ways. But each of us have it. We’ve found the cure in Jesus, but we all have been bitten by the same serpent.

It’s not for us to look down on other sinners. That’s not what this is about. It’s about helping people who are struggling. We have to remember that.

We sang the song “o church arise” this morning. I love the second verse:

Our call to war, to love the captive soul, but to rage against the captor, and with the sword that makes the wounded whole, we will fight with faith and valor.

We have to remember we aren’t warring against people - we are warring against their captor - sin and the devil. And our goal isn’t to destroy people it’s to destroy sin and save people.

A second danger in dealing with other people’s sin is…

Second, you can be harsh, and hurt the person.

It says ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness;. Remember, meekness means gentleness.

You don’t go in with guns blazing - “You dirty sinner, you vile serpent, you wicked rat.” It’s not like that. You approach people in meekness and gentleness.

You don’t cut sin out with an axe, you cut sin out with a scalpel. You try to do as little damage as possible and you let people know you are just trying to help them.

Listen folks, there is a trap here. It appeals to the pride of some people to pick out other people’s sin and that’s not what God intended. God intended this be done in humility and meekness.

A third danger is…

Third, you can be tempted yourself.

It says:

”considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

The truth is, it’s much, much easier for someone to pull you down than it is for you to pull them up.

Everyone thinks they are strong enough, everyone thinks they are doing this for good reasons, but it’s quite possible, it’s actually probable that someone we are trying to help might pull us down to their level.

Let me tell you something, this is just general life advice, surround yourself with people that are better than you, that are higher than you, that are holier than you. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can befriend people living in open sin and that you are going to save them. There is a big possibility that they will pull you down, not the other way around.

So, be a cautious restorer. Be very careful about it, don’t be a contentious rebuker.

One more “be this - not that” statement here:

3. Be big on self-examination, not big on other-examination.

Look at verses 3-5:

”[Gal 6:3-5 KJV] 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.”

The problem that Paul is addressing here in these verses is pride. This is one thing that keeps us from being a servant, from helping others, we think we are too good, too big, too important. We think we don’t have any problems.

We should be our own biggest critics. Rather than looking at the specks in everyone else eyes, we should take care of the two-by-fours sticking out of our own eyes.

Verse 4 says ”Let every man prove his own work.” The word “prove” there means “test” or “examine.”

What this is saying is look at yourself under a microscope before you look at others because some day, we are each going to stand before God and answer to Him, and He sees everything.

The idea here is this, you don’t look at other Christians and say “Wow, look at what that guy is doing, he’s a carnal goat, I’m way more spiritual than he is.” That’s not how we examine our works.

No, we look at ourself. We look at our sin. A better way is to say “Wow, man that guy is struggling over there, and I’m struggling with this here. Maybe God can help me with this sin in my life and then I can help Him.”