International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday February 19, 2017
Purpose: To practice true freedom by serving others in love
Bible Lesson: Galatians 5:1-17
Key Verse: You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. (Galatians 5:13)
Galatians 5:1-17 (CEB)
(1) Christ has set us free for freedom. Therefore, stand firm and don’t submit to the bondage of slavery again. (2) Look, I, Paul, am telling you that if you have yourselves circumcised, having Christ won’t help you. (3) Again, I swear to every man who has himself circumcised that he is required to do the whole Law. (4) You people who are trying to be made righteous by the Law have been estranged from Christ. You have fallen away from grace! (5) We eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness through the Spirit by faith. (6) Being circumcised or not being circumcised doesn’t matter in Christ Jesus, but faith working through love does matter. (7) You were running well—who stopped you from obeying the truth? (8) This line of reasoning doesn’t come from the one who calls you. (9) A little yeast works through the whole lump of dough. (10) I’m convinced about you in the Lord that you won’t think any other way. But the one who is confusing you will pay the penalty, whoever that may be. (11) Brothers and sisters, if I’m still preaching circumcision, why am I still being harassed? In that case, the offense of the cross would be canceled. (12) I wish that the ones who are upsetting you would castrate themselves! (13) You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. (14) All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. (15) But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other! (16) I say be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires. (17) A person’s selfish desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires. They are opposed to each other, so you shouldn’t do whatever you want to do.
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Today’s lesson is very challenging, I found that I was challenged by Paul’s words and what freedom in Christ really means.
The challenge I see from Paul’s words are; How can I take the freedom I have in Christ and make certain that my actions reflects Christ love for me and the freedom I have been given, is not wasted on selfish things?
The problem, as Paul saw it, was the Galatians had received the truth, but then became influenced by the Judaizes that used convincing language to sway them that the only avenue for a Christ follower was to come to Christ via the Jewish religion.
Paul reiterates his original message to them, that God has created a new covenant with all people, not just Jews. The new covenant is based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God has created a way for everyone to receive the grace of salvation that does not require circumcision and following all the rules established by the law.
Observing, holy days and dietary rules is no longer necessary for our salvation. Which I guess Paul counts as freedom. But Paul makes it clear that our freedom does not mean we are free from doing God’s work.
When we receive Christ through faith, we also receive the Holy Spirit, since we get all of God at that time. Unfortunately, God does not always get all of us. We often hold back, and are unwilling to give up our selfishness.
Paul’s assurance is that with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can become more Christ centered and less self-centered in our life. Paul assures the Galatians and us, that the law of love will become our goal and purpose, in a Christ centered and Spirit filled life.
For us, the lesson challenges us to ask, “How are we doing and sharing in God’s love?” Do we love our neighbor as ourselves? Or have we remained in our selfishness?
My hymn for this week shares God’s love, Love Divine all love excelling, and I love the line, “take away my love for sinning.”