• Tony Birkhead

Breaking the Rules... Week - 10




Real Relationships Require Restoration!


INTRODUCTION

Share a time from your childhood or teenager years when you did something that you knew would be punished for, but that your parents never found out about.

How were you able to keep them from finding out? Did you ever tell them what happened when you became an adult? Why or why not?

We’ve all done inappropriate things in our childhood: sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident. Regardless of our motives, the fear of accountability and consequences often keep us from living truthfully with those charged to care for us and to grow up to be honest, responsible people. As challenging as it may be to live rightly with others, we know that ultimately it is best for us and the community of people with whom we live. Nowhere is this more true than the church. The gospel calls believers to love one another in an authentic spiritual community in which sin is confronted, encouragement is given, and resources are shared.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Galatians 6:1-10

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

READ GALATIANS 6:1-2.

How can we restore a Christian who is caught in sin? How do we do this lovingly and not in a condemning manner?

How does restoring a fellow believer caught in sin honor him or her?

How is “bearing one another’s burdens” a way of fulfilling the law of Christ?

One of the best ways we can honor our brothers and sisters in Christ is by helping them fight their sin. We understand that all of our sins are forgiven because of what Jesus did for us in His life, death, and resurrection. However, it won’t be until He returns that our personal battle with sin will be finished. Until that day, God has designed for us to live together in community, as iron sharpens iron. We honor a fellow believer when we help him or her walk away from sin.

READ GALATIANS 6:3-5.

At first glance, these three verses seem to contradict the first two verses of the chapter. But that’s not the case. These three verses dive us deep down internally, all the way to our motives. It is important to realize that the motive behind bearing each other’s burdens matters just as much as the act of bearing them. So before we get an inflated head about all our burden bearing, let’s remember, it’s not about us. Test your motives. It’s possible to bear another person’s burdens in the hope of receiving honor for yourself. So test your heart, make sure you are not giving help in order to receive the praise of your neighbor. In Christ, there is now no condemnation (Rom. 8:1) As we turn our attention internally, let the Holy Spirit show you just how deep your forgiveness in Christ really is. We welcome conviction, but reject condemnation.

How can doing the right thing be motivated by a desire to make much of oneself?

READ GALATIANS 6:6.

Does generosity come naturally for you? Are there certain resources that are easier for you to share than others?

What do you think Paul means when he says the one who is taught should “share all good things with the one who teaches”?

Why do you think Paul put a special emphasis on honoring those who teach the message of Christ?

Most of us are naturally selfish, but Paul shows us how grace frees us to share with others. Here in verse 6, Paul reinforces the idea that the way God builds His church is through the proclamation of the Word, and He wants faithful proclaimers to be honored. Paul speaks of giving to the church as an issue of obedience that comes with tremendous spiritual consequences.

READ GALATIANS 6:7-9.

Paul says in verse 7, “whatever one sows, that he will reap.” How have you seen that law at work in your life?

How does Paul’s picture of sowing and reaping challenge or inspire you to continue living in spiritual community with others? What specifically does it call on you to practice with regard to the financial resources God has given you?

READ GALATIANS 6:10.

We are commanded to “do good to all.” Are some people easier to do good to than others? Why?

Why do you think Paul highlights “the household of faith” as a group we should strive to serve?

Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” If we cannot be generous and kind toward one another in the church, how will we do so to those outside the church? In the gospel, God has given us what we do not deserve: forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Christ. When we are generous toward others, whether or not they deserve it, we display the gospel to the world.

MOVING FORWARD

  • What is an area of your life that you are often tempted to think is outside of God’s law of sowing and reaping? Is there an area of your life that you are often tempted to think lies outside the consequences of which Paul speaks?

  • Is there someone in your life right now to whom you are having difficulty doing good? How can you show him or her kindness this week?

  • How can we do good as a group? What seeds do we need to plant in order to make a difference in our lives and community?

PRAY TOGETHER

Ask the Spirit to form you into an authentic spiritual community in which sin is confronted, encouragement is given, and resources are shared.

COMMENTARY

GALATIANS 6:1-10

6:1. Rather than exhibit destructive attitudes and actions (see Gal. 5:26), Christians are to help one another. Paul again addressed the Galatian believers as brothers, signaling a new topic but also emphasizing their spiritual kinship and his warm feeling for them. He gave the example of someone who was caught in a wrongdoing. Whatever the nature of the person’s sin, spiritual believers are to restore the individual. The word “spiritual” refers to Christians who follow the Spirit’s leadership—who exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. The Greek term rendered “restore” means “to make one what he or she ought to be,” “to bring one back into the right way.” Paul switched to the singular as he issued a caution. He urged any believer engaged in restoration to have a “gentle” spirit rather than a harsh, judgmental attitude. The word gentle has the idea of strength under control (see on 5:22); the restorer is to be firm but kind. Someday that Christian might need gentle restoration, for none of us is immune to temptation and sin. Rather, the believer is to keep a careful eye on self to avoid sinning. An awareness of vulnerability would help the restorer have a gentle, humble spirit.

6:2. Paul exhorted believers to carry one another’s burdens. The word “burdens” refers to loads too heavy to bear alone. It could indicate oppressive loads in general but well may have referred specifically to moral faults referenced in verse 1. The guilt and shame from such sins would be heavy loads. Believers, however, also struggle with other loads that threaten to overpower them. Helping shoulder others’ heavy loads would fulfill the law of Christ.

6:3-5. Paul warned against pride or arrogance—an overblown estimate of self (see 5:26). Believers are not to consider themselves to be superior to others. Elevating themselves and putting others down would prevent them from restoring erring believers and helping shoulder others’ loads. Also, such pride is self-deception; arrogant people have lost touch with reality. Instead of helping erring believers, some Christians evidently were using others’ moral failures to make themselves feel smugly superior. Paul directed them to “evaluate” themselves, not others. Each believer is to examine his own work. The Greek word rendered examine was used of testing metals to assure their purity. If a person’s work could pass the test of his or her objective examination, the individual had grounds for pride in personal accomplishment. The person would avoid an inflated ego at another’s expense. The Greek word for “load” differs from the term for “burden” (v. 2). The word for load could refer to a ship’s cargo (see Acts 27:10), the law’s heavy burden (see Matt. 23:4), a soldier’s pack, or a traveler’s backpack. Paul seems to have meant that while some burdens are too heavy to be carried alone, each person has responsibilities he or she must fulfill.

6:6. At first glance, this verse seems to be an abrupt transition to a new subject. One suggestion is that Paul was encouraging believers to participate with their teachers in restoring straying Christians (see vv. 1-5), thus furthering what was morally good. Most interpreters, however, have taken Paul’s admonition as promoting material support for teachers. Pagan religious teachers commonly received no pay, so the Galatian believers could have taken Paul’s words in verse 5 to mean Christian teachers are to support themselves. Evidently some believers were devoting most of their time to teaching the message (the gospel and its implications for Christian living) and needed financial assistance. Believers benefiting from such teaching are to share their material goods with the teachers.

6:7. Paul warned believers not to be deceived (literally, to “stop being led astray”), for no one can “thumb a nose” at God (God is not mocked) without experiencing devastating results. Whatever seeds a person sows will yield a harvest in kind (see Job 4:8). The person can expect that exact harvest, not something else. Paul well may have referred to the material support of teachers he encouraged in verse 6, but he likely had a broader application in mind.

6:8. Believers could choose to sow to their flesh. They could devote themselves and their goods to self-indulgence that the old self (the flesh) desired. If they did so, their harvest would be corruption—moral and spiritual ruin. Today, people thumb their noses at God when they view salvation as liberty to sin freely, presuming on God’s forgiveness. Such an approach calls into serious question the genuineness of their commitment to Christ. If, however, believers sow to the Spirit—that is, invest themselves and their goods in the sphere the Spirit governs—the Spirit will produce the harvest of eternal life. Paul’s use of the future tense (“will reap”) suggests he had in mind the final harvest of endless life with God.

6:9. One important aspect of sowing to the Spirit is persistently doing good. The phrase may refer specifically to supporting Christian teachers but likely is broader to include good deeds in general. The Greek term for “get tired” has the idea of becoming physically fatigued and of becoming faint-hearted. Christians could become discouraged and disillusioned in doing good and could be tempted to quit. Believers who persevere in well-doing, however, will reap a harvest at the proper time (or “season”)—refined character, spiritual growth, and fulfillment in this life and endless life with God in the next.

6:10. Because determined well-doing will result in a sure, Spirit-produced harvest, believers are to grasp every opportunity to work for the good of all. The Greek word for “opportunity” is the same term rendered “due time” in verse 9. Paul may have extended the agricultural metaphor: taking advantage of the season of sowing good deeds is essential if believers are to enjoy the season of harvest. Christians are to do good for unbelievers and for believers, but they have a special obligation toward members of the household of faith. Believers are to seize every opportunity to help one another in the family of faith.

DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE

HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart: Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God: Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer): After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action: Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?

DAY 1

On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.

Joshua 4:14

Tens of thousands had just crossed crossed over the mighty Jordan river without floatation devices. They strolled across the miraculously dry river bed without a drop of water clinging to their feet. Oh yeah, and the river just happened to be at flood stage. Which means that at some points, the river had swollen from 100 feet wide to 2,500 feet wide. It’s incredible. It’s also eerily reminiscent of another miraculous water crossing (Hint: It’s the Red Sea crossing in Exodus 14). So not only was this crossing of the Jordan significant because God’s power was on display, it was also symbolic of his authority being conferred from Moses to Joshua as Israel’s leader.

Our text tells us that God “exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.” As a leader, this was a good first day. But notice a few things here:

· God exalted Joshua in front of the people. There was no hint of self-promotion here. No flicker of that desperate need for approval, acceptance, and adulation that plagues so many of us.

· Effective—and God-honoring—leadership isn’t about being the smartest person in the room. Rather, it’s about being the person who gets with God. The person who says what God tells them to. Who leads people to where the Spirit is leading them.

· Being the kind of leader that leads God’s people to great places is less about personal attributes than it does personal commitment. After all, Jesus modeled this perfectly by only doing and saying what the Father did and said.

Unfortunately, this is not how I’ve often approached it. I always want to dazzle. I want to be the cleverest person in the room. I want to be eloquent, fresh, and profound. My pride purrs like a kitten when I get to be the guy who tackles a text from a different angle than people have heard before. In fact, there’s this satisfying moment I remember after preaching through the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. A New Testament professor came up to me afterwards and told me, “Wow. I’ve never heard this passage taught that way.”

I LOVED that… Too much, I’m afraid. But when I take a step back and think about it, I’ve been the most effective when I’ve simply done and said what God’s told me to do and to say. The crux of Biblical leadership seems to be this: We’re most effective when we do and say exactly what the Holy Spirit leads us to. Because ultimately, he’s always going to point people to Jesus and God’s glory, which is exactly who we all need. We need Jesus. We need to submit to his Lordship. To follow him on the cruciform path. We were made to run after him with wild abandon.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 2

But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord.

Malachi 1:13

In this scripture, the priests were taking the easy way out. They were fulfilling the requirements of performing the sacrifice, but the sacrifices themselves were inadequate. Why is that? The priests couldn’t sacrifice that which cost them nothing. True sacrifice requires something from us, or it is just a cheap show. That which requires nothing of us means nothing to us. When we offer sacrifices to God, we are giving up something lesser and we receive something greater. We sacrifice our time, we’re filled with the presence of God. We sacrifice our money, God pours out blessing on us. We sacrifice our ambition, he puts us on his path.

The sacrifices the priests were offering were either lame and sick, which cost them nothing, or they were stolen (taken by violence). The sacrifices cost them nothing and God wouldn’t honor those sacrifices. What is wrongfully acquired cannot be rightfully sacrificed. You only worked 39 hours, but you put 40 on your timecard. You’re going to tithe with that stolen hour? You spoke lies about your pastor, now people have left the church and are looking to you for guidance. You are going to start a church with sheep you stole from another’s fold? God will not accept a sacrifice that wasn’t yours to give.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 3

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Romans 6:6

Sin wants to be our master, ruling and dominating us (Genesis 4:7). Left to ourselves, we inevitably become its slaves. Every person to walk the earth, except Jesus, is currently a slave or has been a slave to sin. This works itself out in every evil that we see one person commit against another, or even against themselves (1 Corinthians 6:18). But God, in compassion, became a man and lived a perfect life, fulfilling Old Testament law and prophecy (Matthew 5:17) to redeem us from that slavery.

Jesus, a real man, was crucified on a real cross, in a real place, and saved us from the real consequences of enslavement to sin. Our “old self” has been crucified with Christ and “brought to nothing,” and though it still battles with us, it is a futile fight. For our victory and freedom has already been won through Jesus. We have been “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29), and in our walk with God, we will be made increasingly more like Jesus, the perfect Son.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 4

But Ruth replied “Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you, Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God”

Ruth 1:16

This brief narrative contains elements of great suffering, perseverance, self sacrifice and ultimately redeeming love. The plot-line intertwines the three major characters; Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. Whilst God does not enter the dialogue, it is unanimously held that this story is a powerful testimony of Godly providence. All of the ‘by chance’ encounters leading to Naomi and Ruth’s redemption continually highlight God’s unseen hand. The result is a plot line with precise timing. Nothing is left to chance. Yet for all of its precision the stories’ namesake stands out as an example to us all. Ruth epitomizes self sacrificial love. A Moabite woman – Ruth was not an Israelite. Marrying such was against God’s commandments. Now a young widow, she was given the prospect of returning to a land dominated by Israelites. In this territory she would be regarded an alien and outsider.

It is reasonable to assume she was attractive, especially in delighting Boaz (a man of some standing). Therefore in her twenties she could have rebuilt her life and sought another husband in her own homeland. Yet she chose to accompany her embittered mother-in-law and stay be her side – no matter what. In comparison, her sister’s devotion was nonexistent. At the prospect of release she packed her belongings and headed home. The temptation on Ruth potentially would have been great. She also could have returned to her own people, her own ‘gods’ (thus far this Israelite God had not bestowed many blessings on them. Her husband, father and brother-in-law had all died and now the two women were starving). Even her mother-in-law’s pleas to leave her in her bitterness would not sway Ruth’s resolve.

She willingly gave her young life to serve another. This ‘outsider’ gave her heart in selfless devotion. Her mother-in-law was now her only mother, and Her God was now Ruth’s God. It is understandable that the God of Israel accepting such a sacrifice and adopting her as His own. From her own womb would come the ancestors of King David, ultimately the royal lineage leading to the Messiah Himself. “Her total devotion to her desolate mother-in-law mark her as a true daughter of Israel and a worthy ancestress of David” (Barker, 2002). Thousands of years later Ruth stands as a woman of noble character, selfless devotion and obedience. It is her sense of love that binds these qualities together – Her life was laid down for another (1 John 3:16). In return, God honored her commitment and rewarded her – Eternally.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 5

So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.

Job 2:13

When Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane, He told the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there" (Matthew 26:36). Then He handpicked Peter, James, and John to go with Him. Notice that Jesus did not say, "Explain this to Me," because He didn’t need an explanation. He was God, after all. Nor did He say, "Preach to Me," because He certainly didn’t need a sermon. He just wanted His friends to stay with them. Jesus was lonely. Though God and yet man, He was experiencing cosmic, epic loneliness, and He was asking for a little companionship. This is a reminder that when someone is suffering, one of the best things we can do is just be there. Galatians 6:2 tells us, "Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."

When Job’s world fell apart and he lost everything that was dear to him in a matter of hours, his wife only added insult to injury when she said, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!" (Job 2:9). Imagine that on a greeting card. But Job had three friends who showed up, and when they saw Job covered in boils and despondent, they just sat with him and cried. And that was the best thing they could have done for him. That is often what people really need when they are suffering—someone to just weep with them. We don’t always need to have the answers. The fact of the matter is that we rarely do.

When someone is hurting or suffering, we can actually cause more pain when we try to give people answers. It has been said, "Preach the gospel, and when necessary, use words." Sometimes the best thing you can do is just be there.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org

MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

Galatians 6:1

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