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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Today's Scripture Reading | Galatians 5:25—6:10

If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.

My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads. Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher. Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. (NRSV)

Tribal allegiances and political turbulence have always been the cauldron within which human relational and spiritual development arises. Within this frame, Galatians 5:25—6:10 offers wise guidance in addressing the challenges we face. Here the Apostle Paul brings his pastoral care to new Christians from a non-Jewish background. They are being persecuted for not following the Mosaic law and practicing circumcision. To dispel this confusion Paul vigorously reaffirms the freedom in Christ and urges them to return to “life in the Spirit.”

Paul writes “Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  This invokes choice. It requires following the new law of love, choosing actions and thoughts that promote the well-being of self and others. ”

Paul also warns his flock to reject the “fruit of the flesh,” the negative reactions that come from pride, self-importance, contentiousness, rage. How do we confront those forces, inward and outward, that thrust us into either “flesh actions” or “spirit actions”?  Paul suggests that humility and respect in addition to courage better serve the possibility of reconciliation and restoration to right relationship.

It is noteworthy that the passage about correction of others ends with “Bear one another’s burdens, thus fulfilling the law of Christ.” We are responsible for social restoration but we must also be aware that we are to engage in this work with the most compassionate consciousness we can muster.

Finally, Paul gives us a warning as well as a hope to those facing faith and cultural struggles. He writes that “if you sow in the Spirit you will reap the harvest of eternal life. Never grow tired of doing good. We will reap a harvest at the proper time—if we don’t grow weary” (The Inclusive Bible).

Good Lord, give us the courage to stand for justice and mercy. Bless our efforts to protect this beautiful earth you have given us for our home. Give us the grace to be the people you are calling us to be. Amen.

Written Susan Cornelius, Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being

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