13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
Examine / Explain
Freedom is found not in the bounds of flesh but in the endless mercy and grace of the Spirit. When we focus on our neighbors with our fleshy attitudes and actions, we become consumed with each other. Paul is warning the Galatians about this more than once now. He gives us a list of fleshly deeds to look out for and a list of spiritual fruit that should be flowing out of us. When we see fleshly deeds, we need to check our hearts to experience the freedom given to us through the Spirit and paid for by Christ on the cross. Our passions and desires should shift from wanting to live in our flesh to wanting to live by the Spirit. And not let the wrong measuring stick measure our living in the Spirit.
How do I apply this to my life?
How do I look at my neighbors? Both lost and found. Do I expect a non-believer to act like a believer? Impossible! Can they borrow morality from God and appear to be good? I believe they do. But we as believers should be looking at the lost with love in our eyes. We are to see people as people who need a savior, who probably feel hopelessly lost in this world. The ones who hate Christianity are our neighbors. Those who practice this list of fleshly deeds are our neighbors. And the ones who claim to be followers are Christ, yet there is no evidence of this list of the fruit of the Spirit are our neighbors. How do we love our neighbor as ourselves? How am I doing in this area of my life? Does my guard go up if I see someone near me or my family that I don’t consider safe? Absolutely! I am a steward of what God has given me. But I am also to give away to those in need. We are to use our discernment when dealing with people. The Spirit will guide us through those moments if we walk with Him. I’m stuck on verse twenty-six, however. Straight from the Greek, “Not we should become boastful, one another provoking, one another envying.” Then, from Hebrews 10:24, “And we should think one another, toward stirring up to love and to good works.” In my daily relationships, I am not to be boastful and make it about me. I want to stir others up in love and encourage them to do good work. For me, being challenged by another can’t be in comparison to how they are walking in the Spirit but should be a stirring of my soul to draw me to a more narrow walk with the Spirit. This is my pursuit, purpose, and assignment in life. To stir other men or my neighbors to love and good deeds. For them to find freedom in the Spirit. Can that be by my example? Yes. But that means I have relational equity with my neighbor. Discipling is as unique to each person being a disciple as their fingerprints. We are all built differently and require unique stirring. Should we all have the same disciplines of study and prayer? Yes! However, I’m curious what two or three neighbors in pursuit of Christ would look like in unique situations.
What is my response?
Father, fix my vision! Change my perspective! Let me look at all my neighbors in love and compassion. Let’s look at those who don’t believe with the same eyes You looked at them while here on this earth. Let me stir my brothers in Christ in a provocative way, and never be boastful in the way that it is done. Let me be sensitive to the Spirit. Let me be sensitive and discerning to my neighbor. Can I see what they need? In the moment? For eternity? How do I love them? I can’t do everything for everybody, but I can make a difference in the moment that I am in. I see people for who they are. We were all created in the likeness of God. We are all human, and we all crave something to feel safe. We have this God-shaped hole in us, and when we fill it with our fleshly deeds, we get wrapped up and try to devour our neighbor because we are comparing our deeds to their deeds. They won’t match, and division ensues. We are to be different! I am to love my neighbor in our differences. Help me live this out daily. Help me to be more like Christ today than yesterday. Amen.