SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (November 4, 2013)
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God” Galatians 5:19-21.
“I WARN YOU, AS I DID BEFORE, THAT THOSE WHO LIVE LIKE THIS WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD” Galatians 5:21b (NIV).
We have so far looked at some of the acts of the sinful nature with are connected to our relationship with God, especially, the first two commandments. We have also talked about sexual sins which are also connected to relationship with one another as believers. In this edition, I would like to combine most of the acts and look at them as one since most of them fall under the same category of loving our neighbors and living in harmony with each other as people of God. They can be all connected to the eighth, ninth and tenth commandments. The acts of the sinful nature to be considered today are hatred, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissension, factions and envy. All these can negatively affect the unity of the body of Christ.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he talked about love as a very vital ingredient for the unity of the body of Christ. According to Paul, love is: patient, kind, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). This is the direct opposite of the acts of the sinful nature as we find in Galatians 5:19-21 which we have been discussing for some time now. One can then conclude that the acts of the sinful nature we are looking at today are directly opposed to Christian love which God expects us to demonstrate. Unfortunately, this is exactly what we see among many Christians of our day.
Hatred exists among Christians and non-Christians alike. Some people hate others to the extent that they can even kill them with weapons or use witchcraft power to kill or destroy fellow human beings. Even within the church, you will find brothers and sisters hating each other because of our different gifts and talents; it starts with evil envy and develops to hatred and sometimes witchcraft practice. Some Christians hate their fellow Christian brothers and sisters to the extent that they do not even want to share same seats with them or see them doing anything good. The other sisters of hatred are evil envy and evil jealousy. I am qualifying them with ‘evil’ because envy and jealousy can also be used in the positive sense. We know that God describes himself as a jealous God. That is different from this evil jealousy Paul mentioned here because God’s jealousy is aroused when anyone or anything attempts to break the covenant he has with us. It is his strong love for us that makes him jealous when anything threatens our covenant relationship with him.
These sinful acts are also seen between churches as result of denominational differences. We have become so divided that we hardly see each other as Christians. Some people think their churches or denominations are the best and so all those outside theirs are not Christians. They forget that every church or denomination has its own strengths and weaknesses. How about unhealthy competitions among churches and denominations and even pastors which cause some to try as much as possible to find something negative to say about their so-called ‘rivals’? Are we competing for anything in this world? How can a pastor paint another pastor of a different church black, just to win the favor of men? Why have we allowed dissension to reign among us? Where from our selfish ambitions which cause us to do things without considering the needs or emotions of others as if they don’t exist? Is selfishness part of Christian love? Why are you amassing so much wealth as a pastor, church leader, administrator or government official without considering the needs of others? Why are you failing to develop the gifts and talents of others? Why are you suppressing the gifts and talents of others as a leader? Is it because you think people will begin to like them more than they like you?
How about divisions within our families? What role did we play in causing divisions within our families and how much contribution are we making to re-unite our families? Why are you so angry at the slightest thing and shouts at everyone as if you are ‘mad’? Is that Christian? Are Christians not supposed to be sober-minded? How do you react when you are angry? How do you behave when others are happy? There are some people who get angry anytime they see others happy. This is evil! Some believers are also very quarrelsome and will find means of fighting with others at the slightest opportunity. This is ungodly. A believer should not be quarrelsome but peaceful. There are those who also do not see anything good in others. To them, whatever comes from other people apart from them is not good. They never encourage or praise others but always scolding people; trying to find fault in others is their trademark. Yet they are easily angered when they are not praised when they expect to be praised. How about our evil thoughts? Do we think good of others and wish others well or we always want others to fall while we keep rising? How about our words? Do we use filthy language at others just because we are angry?
Let us remember that Paul mentioned some these sinful acts to help us to check whether we are losing the battle against the flesh or not. You and I cannot be completely exonerated from some of these acts. But this is not to discourage anybody to see himself or herself as unchristian. It is to reminder to all of us that if we continue to live like this, we have allowed the sinful nature to overcome the spiritual nature and are therefore not going to inherit the Kingdom of God. But there is hope for all of us. If we shall turn to God, and ask for his grace, he will forgive us our sins and grant us the grace to overcome the acts of the sinful nature which we demonstrate as if we are of the flesh!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.