Paul cares deeply about how the members of the church relate to one another. He has seen the church at Galatia at its best and at its worst. He sees how their conflicts and quarrels keep them from creating a beloved community. So, Paul writes to convey two basic truths.
First, the members belong to one another. The members are responsible to one another. Therefore, they should check their pride at the door. Thriving faith communities are governed not by ego, Paul writes, but rooted in humility. This kind of humility can be counterintuitive. It goes against that within us that wants to shout, “Me, me! Love me now!” But the exhortation to bearing with and for one another remains the same.
Second, Paul writes that all members contribute unique gifts to make the community thrive. Sometimes this means receiving instruction humbly from an unlikely person. Sometimes it means continuing to work hard even when one’s contributions are not appreciated. And often it means planting seeds of faith even if the harvest does not come for years. Regardless of how our gifts are received, we’re asked to offer them.
Like in the early church, nothing kills our community life faster than members’ feelings of self-importance. Showing up at church believing that we’re better than someone else not only kills any spirit of Christian unity but also keeps others from feeling welcome. Today, we hear again the call to bear one another’s burdens, walk with one another, and uplift one another. As we respond to that call, our church becomes a stronger witness for the way of Christ while becoming a community of faith where newcomers feel welcome and find ways to grow in their faith.
God, committing our whole hearts to community life is tough work. But it’s the work you’ve called us to do. Bring to mind today one person we need not only to pray for but to go out of our way to show kindness to this week. Amen.
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures describe what can happen when our own strength fails us. Naaman is a great military commander from Syria, but he has no power to heal himself. The psalmist, traditionally David, has become too comfortable in his prosperity. Both men must humble themselves before they can experience healing and restoration from God. How often do we let our pride stand in the way of our healing? Paul admonishes his readers to carry themselves with humility and to build up one another. What they do will always come back to them; what we sow, we reap. The story in Luke warns against being proud even of the gifts that God gives us. Our greatest joy is not that we can do things for God but that God already has accepted us.
Read 2 Kings 5:1-14. When have God’s instructions been more involved than you expected? How did you respond?
Read Psalm 30. How can you continue to praise God during the dark, lonely, and hopeless times?
Read Galatians 6:1-16. When has your faith community struggled with members’ lack of humility? How did you resolve the situation so that you could welcome and nurture new Christians?
Read Luke 10:1-11, 16-20. When have you misconstrued God’s accomplishments as your own successes? How did you refocus your life or ministry on serving God?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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