Summary: This morning, we come to the last lines of the book/letter of Galatians. We started this journey January 24 and I’ve preached twenty one sermons in this series.
Dance Lessons: Boasting Only in the Cross
Professor Jefferson M. Williams
Chenoa Baptist Church
The End of the Letter
Let me start out this morning with a little quiz. I’m going to give you the last lines of famous books and see if you know them.
But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries, for supper. - Tale of Peter Rabbit
But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing. - The House at Pooh’s Corner
Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I can never wish you a greater happiness than this!” - Little Women
“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.” - Charlotte’s Web
“And how happy I am, now that I have become a real boy!” - The Adventures of Pinocchio
“Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.” - Gone with the Wind
All their life in this world, [and Narnia], and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter one of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever in which every chapter is better than the one before.” - The Last Battle, The Chronicles of Narnia
This morning, we come to the last lines of the book/letter of Galatians. We started this journey January 24 and I’ve preached twenty one sermons in this series. If you haven’t been able to watch them all, they are on my Facebook page and the Chenoa Baptist Church’s Facebook page.
In July, I’m going to be editing these manuscripts and hopefully will have them in book form in the fall.
The Law of the Harvest
Last week, we studied the law of the harvest - “a man reaps what he sows.” (Gal 6:7)
Paul elaborated this principle -
“Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Gal 6:8)
In chapter 5, Paul writes that we are “to crucify the the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal 5:24)
If we sow to the flesh, if we allow the sinful nature that doesn’t love God to have free rein, we will reap destruction, corruption, decay, and death.
But when we yield ourselves to the Spirit, when we are led by, walk in, keep in step with the Spirit then Paul says we reap eternal life.
Paul encourages us “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Gal 6:9-10)
I made the point that opportunities to do good are like bubbles - they are there and then they are gone. I prayed that we would be aware of the opportunities that God brings our way and that we would do good.
Monday morning, I talked to a church member who told me that she had already had a bubble opportunity. She was literally dancing with joy as she told me the story.
And remember those who dance are thought crazy by those who cannot hear the music!
Let me make a clarification from last week. She found her opportunity from a need shared on FaceBook. Let’’s use Facebook to make much of Jesus and watch for opportunities to do good to others.
This brings us to the last words of Galatians.
Turn with me to Galatians 6:11-18.
Paul’s Personal Signature
Galatians was Paul’s first letter and so it’s hard to say that it deviated from any kind of norm but the ending is unique among his epistles.
There are no mention of travel plans
No final greeting
No prayer requests
No expression of joy
And the final benediction is conditional
“See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!” (Gal 6:11)
It was not uncommon in the ancient near east for someone like Paul to use a secretary to take dictation the he was sending these letter to churches.
But at the end of his letters, Paul would take the pen from the scribe’s hand and write his own personal “sincerely yours,” as he did in 2 Thessalonians:
“I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.” (2 Thessalonians 3:17)
Why did Paul write in such “large letters?” There are several theories.