Summary: Spiritual growth is a group project.
Engage in Groups
Rev. Brian Bill
September 24-25, 2016
How many of you enjoyed group projects when you were in school? My guess is that if you coasted in your classes (like I did), you liked them because you could get a better grade if you were in a group with some brainiacs. It was pretty cool that we all got the same score even if I didn’t contribute much. On the other hand, if you were serious about your studies, you probably didn’t like having underperforming teammates like me.
In general, being in a group is good but it can also become grating. About a month ago I listened to a podcast in which the speaker made a statement that I can’t get out of my mind. I’m going to change it up slightly and use it as our sermon summary today: Spiritual growth is a group project.
Let me explain why I say that. There are almost 60 occurences of the phrase,“one another” in the New Testament that appear as specific commands. Here’s the deal – if you’re not connected to other Christians, you’re going to have a difficult time obeying these commands.
Here are just ten of the “one anothers”:
• Love one another (this occurs more than 15 times)
• Be devoted to one another
• Honor one another
• Live in harmony with one another
• Build up one another
• Admonish one another
• Bear with one another
• Comfort one another
• Forgive one another
• Pray for one another (last weekend we focused on praying for revival – I hope you’ve been doing that this week because when we follow God’s plan, we will receive His promises)
Whether we like it or not, we’re all inolved in the same group project because Romans 12:5 says that we are “members of one another.” These commands are impossible to live out if we are not connected with other Christians.
As we continue in our series called Engage, let’s give our attention to Galatians 6:1-5 by reading the text together: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.”
Before we unpack our text, let’s back up to Galatians 5 and set the context. Verse 15 gives us a picture of how these Christians were treating one another: “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Verse 25 provides the key to the Christian life: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Verse 26 indicates that if we want the Body of Edgwood to be strengthened, we must avoid belittling other believers: “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” The word “provoke” means “to challenge” somebody to a contest. Pride can cause us to go after those we consider inferior and to envy those who appear to be superior.
Paul the teacher gives us a four-part group assignment. Let’s engage and tackle this together because spiritual growth is a group project.
#1: Restore the Broken (1)
God gives us four relational responsibilities in this passage. Our first assignment is found in verse 1: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” One paraphrase puts it this way: “If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out.”
Paul refers to his readers as “brothers,” which indicates we’re part of the same family. It’s a term that is warm and affectionate and literally means, “from the same womb.” The word “caught” was used to describe a bird or an animal that had become entangled in a trap. A believer who is caught in a sin is one who has been surprised or suddenly entrapped, with no hope of escape. He or she is unexpectedly stuck in sin. “Transgression” is the idea of stumbling or sliding off a slick path.
When we were missionaries in Mexico, one night we went bowling with our team members. We had a great time, that is, until Beth starting winning. At that point, the fun was over as I stopped smiling and put on my game face. I’ll never forget what happened next. I lined up and began my approach. As I got ready to let go of the ball, my fingers got stuck in the holes and I slid face first down the alley! It was a perfect swan dive. I have never seen Beth laugh so hard in her life. I defaulted because I had slipped and crossed the line, and no one helped me back up because they were all splitting a gut.