International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday February 26, 2012
Purpose: To respond to God's gift of redemption in a way that bears fruit for God's Kingdom
Scripture Text: Galatians 5:22-26; 6:1-10
(22) By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, (23)gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. (24) And 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 be guided by the Spirit. (26) Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.
(1) 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. (2)Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (3) For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. (4 )All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor's work, will become a cause for pride. (5) For all must carry their own loads. (6) Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher.(7) Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. (8) 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. (9) So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. (10) So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
To give you a sense of what Paul is contrasting, I will give you the verses preceding our text: (17) For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. (19) Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, (20) idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, (21) envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul goes from teaching theology, as he done in our previous lessons to teaching the practical application of what it means to live by faith, and not by the Law of Moses.
The “Fruits of the Spirit” Paul mentions, are different than following the “Law” that the Judaizers were trying to impose on this community of believers. You have to appreciate Paul's sense of humor when he says in verse 23 “...There is no law against such things.” There is no law against doing what is right.
Galatians is often referred to as "Luther's book," because Martin Luther relied so strongly on this letter in all his preaching, teaching and writing against the prevailing theology of his day. It is also referred to as the "Magna Carta of Christian Liberty."
Within the “fruits of the spirit,” there are some divisions; Love, Joy and Peace stem from our relationship with God. Patience, Kindness, and Generosity speaks to our relationship with other people. The last three, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control, all require a choice on our part. By that Paul seems to say. “We choose faith in Christ over the Law, and a life of submission and consideration for others, and we choose to let the desires of the flesh be crucified with Christ and choose to allow the Holy Spirit, rather than our own lust-fullness, to control our desires.”
Paul warns against becoming self righteous and thinking we are somehow better and holier than others. Have you ever wondered, as you drive past all of the different churches in your community, why are so many doing the same work? All profess faith in the same Lord and Savior, yet each church seems to express that faith in different ways. Churches like people are given different gifts, in order that the whole community might be served. It is our responsibility to encourage and embrace all that are a part of the body of Christ.
In Chapter six Paul gives us guidance on dealing with those that have strayed, or lost their faith. We are instructed always to try to restore them to the fellowship. Look within yourself before you judge others, each must bear each others burdens, fulfilling the law of Christ which is, “Love your neighbor as yourselves.” in addition to, “Loving God with all of our heart, mind and soul.” Verse 6:10 is a great close for our lesson, “(10) So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.