When those around you are falling apart – Galatians 6 part 1

We have reached the end of Galatians.  What a treat this has been.

Paul ends his letter in two parts.  There is so much here, we are going to have to do this in parts.

Paul doesn’t pull any punches.  He just tells it like it is.  Sometimes, those around you aren’t going to have their life together.  Sometimes, you are going to want to run for the hills because even an association with someone is going to seem too much.

When they’ve sinned.

Paul says:  go to them, restore them and don’t judge them, because you might someday need similar grace.  Ouch!  When people sin, don’t we hold part of ourselves back to ‘help’ them.  We want to use our higher brain functions to ‘show them how to do it right’.  Paul says:  treat them as an equal.  You have the same base tendencies.  Lovingly restore them.  (If you check this with other Paul writings, this would mean that the person has turned from their sin, and isn’t continuing in it.)

About 200 years after Paul wrote these words, there was a great persecution.  Some of the Christians couldn’t handle the pressure, and turned in other Christians.  Those who were turned in were tortured, and some were even fed to the lions.  When the persecutions were over, those who remained, wanted to make sure they could trust the informants.  They devised a method by which the informants could earn their way back into the congregation.  This is where the whole idea of penance came from.  They had to stay outside the congregation for a year and couldn’t have communion for a year while they were paying their penance.  Interestingly, those who had survived prison were the most forgiving, and called for forgiveness.

Share the burden of the oppressed

Ouch.  We like to give to charities so that the charities can share the burden.  In what ways do we share the burden?  Have you considered having someone who has alienated their entire family over to the holidays?  What about having coffee with someone and listening to their story?  Hospitality has many forms.  It is easy to show hospitality to those who look and act like us, but hospitality of the heart means that we offer our time and energy to those who can’t return it – in this way, we share their burden.  Genuine human contact is precious, and it is one of the things they miss most.

Be the person God created you to be

I had a conversation on the bus with a woman this week.   I was telling her how incredibly creative one of my children is.  She said “yes, but there is no money in that.  Better tell them now, and make sure they make plans for the future.”  I have been thinking on this all week long.

I wonder how much of our society has been squelched because people are trying to be responsible and earn a living.  God designed us in His image, and His image is creative.  His image is also analytical and methodical.  He has so many facets.  You were designed in God’s image, and when you live up to being the person He created you to be, you add value to society.  Find your giftings, explore them and develop them to the hilt.  We won’t be the same if you don’t.


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