You're flying in a little Piper, enjoying the scenery over splendid
country. The sky's clear blue and the land is a lush green. You are at
a good altitude, making the little farm beneath, look like a small
patch of color. Since there appear to be no other farms to look at, you
decide to fly lower to look at this one. As you descend, you pick out a
small river that runs through the farm. It's well lined with trees that
partially cover the banks of the river. The farm is coming into view
now, and the rows of crops come into view also. You begin to notice
something different that wasn't noticeable from that great distance.
You aren't sure if you're really seeing what it appears, so you descend
more. Now the scenery has become quite distinct, and you're sure of
what you questioned moments earlier. First, you clearly see the
beautiful river is lined with junked automobiles. All along its banks,
they're securely planted to prevent erosion. They may serve someone's
purpose, but the sight is just plain ugly, not to mention dangerous!
You also notice piles of rubbish around the house and outbuildings. You
see there are people living there, for children are playing in the
yard, but some of the windows in the house are broken and some just
boarded up. It's very ugly! Well, enough of this sight, so up and away
The sight I've just described is what some of us might
actually be like. You see, many people are sure they're beautiful
objects which others have to admire. They're like that farm seen high
up in the air. From a distance, they're lush and green with many
appealing qualities. They have nicely farmed rows of crops and a river,
plenty of blue sky and privacy. Some people also see them only from
that distance and think they're pretty neat. If you close in on these
people, the scene changes. You begin to see great ugliness that's
covered by trees and distance. We can be just like this, by appearing
to be diligent for what's right. We think we're so great because of our
uncompromising way. We have become unloving and bitter. (Note: All
Christians have a responsibility to be uncompromising in dealing with
sin. I'm not addressing that issue.)
We don't really care about anyone except ourselves. We take
joy in finding failure in others, and gladly talk about it with many.
Oh, this is such a grievous ugliness! This is the sort of ugliness that
marked a good deal of Pharisees in the time of Christ. We become
self-righteous! We don't see our own weaknesses, or look at others with
love and care.
WATCH FOR A
Look at Galatians 6:1-3:
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.
We've just had the third verse illustrated to us. The first
two verses need to be looked at closely. As I said, we're to deal with
sin. This first verse is clear about that. This means an uncompromising
attitude towards how we face sin. The verse can't be looked at quickly,
however. It warns us very strongly about a state of heart we have to be
careful to maintain. If we don't, we're the ones to be condemned. Do we
walk in a natural condition of fear and trembling? Do we dare hardly
breath for fear of being the sinner ourself, rather than the rebuker?
Are we so sure we barge ahead without taking a second and third look at
ourselves, before we so freely condemn the others? When we speak, we
should speak with great caution, counting our very words to see if they
themselves become transgressions.
19 In the multitude of words there wanteth
not sin: but he
that refraineth his lips is wise.
In the second verse of Galatians 6, we deal with sin, yes,
but with a love for the other. In a sharp tongue and glinting eye,
we're not doing the work of Christ. We can certainly say we're not
doing Christ's work, if we're sitting around complaining to others
about the faults of our brethren. This is nothing but gossip! One great
ugliness I've seen, is a condemnation of others, cutting off
fellowship, but never confirming or lovingly confronting them with
bonafide facts. I've seen these people spread their condemnation to
others, and never follow Galatians 6:1,2.
WATCH YOUR MOUTH
14 Do all things without
murmurings and disputings: 15 That
ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in
the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as
lights in the world;
The God-fearing man will notably have a lovely
conversation. It does warn of iniquity, and that will grieve many, but
it doesn't sit around complaining. We may complain about true troubles,
but our hearts shouldn't savor these. We should give them to the Lord,
and thank Him for listening and answering our prayers (Phil. 4:6,7).
Any other attitude and behavior tears down our Christian witness.
To man it's natural to complain, but it's so wrong! If you
want to get a good view of how much we complain, do this little test.
Set aside one day with your family (or whoever) and agree that you
won't complain about anything for that whole day. I haven't heard of
anyone who has ever made it!
It's interesting to see that such murmurless and
disputeless conversation is called "blameless and harmless".
First, the harmless is easy to see. If we don't use our
speech to put down, we're not stirring destruction somewhere. No gossip
or backbiting to harm other's lives.
The blameless is such, because a good attitude is hard for
people to condemn, especially in the face of adversity. If you complain
in justifiable circumstances, the world will agree, but showing peace
in the midst of adversity will shine as a light. The world won't
understand this, for the complaining is their way. They'll wonder and
can't deny the glory they saw rest upon you.
We shine before the world, or we don't. If we're careful in
our conversations, the world will notice, and won't be able to deny
what they saw in the day of the Lord. Will your murmurless conversation
be admitted by those who know you?
If you make sure everyone hears about the bad you feel
someone did you, you can't claim this verse as referring to you. That
kind of conversation is like the junked cars lining the pleasant river.
Go ahead, totally bury those cars.
BE KIND AND
Let us take a look at Ephesians 4:32:
32 And be ye kind one to
another, tenderhearted, forgiving
one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
"Tenderhearted" is another word for "compassionate".
seldom see kindness practiced among brethren anymore. Sure, I see acts
of charity, but the words spoken to others in private are very
uncharitable. If we diligently strove to love one another, we wouldn't
so quickly complain about the struggling brothers' faults. We would
pray for them and encourage them in the right way. We would keep our
thoughts of how they could do better to ourselves, and pray with love
for them before God. If we knew ourselves, we would see how prone we
are to stray. We wouldn't look on the other with contempt. In so doing,
we must truly hold ourselves in contempt. As we see ourselves and admit
our own weaknesses, then we're able to live out Ephesians 4:32.
Next, let's look at 1 Thessalonians 5:14,15:
14 Now we exhort you,
brethren, warn them that are unruly,
comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow
that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
1 Thessalonians 5:14,15
We see the attitude called for in these verses. When you
have a plant you're trying to keep alive, how do you deal with it? If
the plant goes like a wild weed, all straggly and sends out long
branches with little growth, we must prune it back to force growth
where it needs to be. This is warning the unruly.
The next kind of plant in our garden is real sensitive. Too
much sun, and it begins to wilt. Do we yell at it? Do we prune it? Now
with people that have legs, they can keep walking into that strong sun.
They may not have much sense to stay put in the shade, and hence keep
bringing their own wilting problems. Nevertheless, we keep trying to
provide the flourishing environment for them.
Support the weak plant next. To this we may have to provide
stakes and tie the plants to them to hold in position. We keep praying
for God's directing hands on them. We warn and give advice after the
right direction. Complaining about them won't help anyone. Love looks
diligently to them. With faithful nurturing, we stand a good chance to
see this plant become strong in time.
An overall summary to the plant care section, is to have
patience to all. Patience, again, means not having a grumbling
Look at Colossians 1:11 in regards to this attitude:
11 Strengthened with all
might, according to his glorious
power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
We have this strength to do right, by God Himself. Patience
and longsuffering go hand in hand. The one almost defines the other.
The joyfulness outlaws any murmuring and complaining about others.
In verse 5:15, we see an ultimate charge. Never should
there be a complaining attitude. If the plant, after all the good care
you give it, should nevertheless die, you don't retaliate by maligning
the good for nothing plant. There's never a place for bitterness in the
servant of Christ. (Hebrews 12:14,15).
Attitudes are one of the greatest areas of falling, amongst
both young and old Christians. Now you can begin to see why the call to
watch yourself found in Galatians 6:1.
A GOOD WORKMAN
Finally, we need to examine the following:
24 And the servant of the
Lord must not strive; but be
gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing
those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them
repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
2 Timothy 2:24,25
These verses are particularly addressing a minister.
principal involved goes to all believers, however. Gentleness leads the
list, followed with patience and meekness. Again, we clearly see the
Galatians 6:1 attitude. We're to work for the other brethren, so they
can have a right relationship with God. They may be wavering on the
edge and wallowing in a hardened heart in some way, but our approach
should still be gentle. To see brethren continuing to walk in darkness,
is naturally going to be a grief of heart to any faithful Christian. Do
we grow bitter over their failure to bring forth fruit? Herein lies the
possible future failure or success of their being straightened out. If,
as a faithful Christian, you don't become a backbiter because of their
wicked wandering, your true faithfulness itself may be the key to bring
them back to repentance, down the road.
There are those eager to remain adamant against sin, yet go
into it themselves through their adamancy. They become unrighteously
critical, and possess no love. Enter your typical Pharisee. Look at
Jesus' words addressing this very thing:
42 But woe unto you,
Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue
and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God:
these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Jesus condemned the Pharisees. He said they were diligent
to obey in less important aspects of the law. They were to do these
lesser things, but the chief of the law was totally neglected by them.
These being the balance of each other.
We often picture the Pharisees as being evil because of
judging. This verse shows that simply isn't the case. They did "judge",
but their judgment wasn't the righteous kind. It's the kind of judging
this whole lesson is about. We get the idea that what we think is good
or bad is the end of all matters. We never even question any more if we
could possibly be mistaken, so take another look when we're challenged.
We lose all love. In this state, we're indeed woeful.
What was Jesus getting at? What was the precious point of
the law He said they were lacking? Galatians 6:1,2 is the answer to
this. We must weigh and discern good and evil and separate from it.
That's the judgment called for. The balance is how we go about ensuring
the obedience to that proper judgment. We don't run around with our
nose in the air toward the offenders. That violates the "love" part of
this verse. Love demands we take an honest look at our own nature and
in mercy do what must be done. Attempting in all areas to seek restored
fellowship, wanting this. The unloving judgment really cares less about
the offender. All it really cares about, is looking as if it's the one
always in the right. If it's condemned, it will unrighteously condemn
the accuser to justify itself, because it never takes that second look
questioning itself. That's exactly what took place at the sham trial of
MORE OF THE LAW
17 Thou shalt not hate
thy brother in thine heart: thou
shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy
people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
This passage is the very base of what Jesus was referring
to, when He rebuked the Pharisees in the previous section.
Look at this passage carefully. From verse 17, we can see
to neglect rebuke of sin is an act of hatred. We have the
responsibility of confronting sin. To confront sin is, hence, an act of
Verse 18 goes on to warn of the opposite sin of becoming
"self-righteous". The attitude of focusing in on the sin, with our own
personal vendetta. We deal with the sin, and hold a judgmental hatred
in our hearts toward the sinning brother. This is the "bear any grudge"
referred to. True godly judgment with love and mercy doesn't have any
grudging in the heart. The passage is all summed up in "love thy
neighbour as thyself" and sealed with the Lord's official signet of
authority in the close, "I am the LORD."
It's such a temptation to get caught up in others, that we
can't be at peace (and walk accordingly). If we truly keep our eyes
focused on the Lord, we can't help but hold ourselves in the right
perspective. If we do this, we won't neglect dealing properly with sin,
and we won't neglect walking in true meekness.
Take diligent care to avoid being found like the farm that
appears beautiful only at a distance. Clean up your own yard, fix your
windows and be truly beautiful up close. If you're diligent in this,
you'll find that your dealings outwardly will manifest a new love and
mercy for others. This is a beautiful flower whose fragrance is truly
attractive and lures those who don't flinch at the light (John 3:19,20).