Summary: “Four Principles that Will Change Your Life”
“Four Principles that Will Change Your Life”
March 15, 2009
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If any of you think you are something when you are nothing, you deceive yourselves. Each of you should test your own actions. Then you can take pride in yourself, without comparing yourself to somebody else, for each of you should carry your own load. Nevertheless, those who receive instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow. Those who sow to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; those who sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let 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.”
Today is a very special day to me. It is my mom’s birthday. She is 81 years young today. I’m not going to say something corny like “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Mom!” Oh, I guess I just did – but it’s true - Both physically and spiritually. Mom was the one who made us go to church growing up and attempted to have devotions with us disinterested teens. She was the one who prayed for us – and when I was tired of life and wanted to give up – she pointed me to the Scripture and Jesus. She loved me when no one else did. She believed in me when no one else did. She is my example of a true Christ-like Christian. Mom, Happy Birthday! I love you!
I wish all of you could have had a tender, loving, Christ-like mom like me. There are a few people in our life that make such a great difference in who is we are. Encouragement, support, love – they change our life with it. And there are a few Scriptures that change our lives, too. Galatians 6 is one for me.
Way back in the mid 70’s I took my first church. I had graduated from bible college; took a few more classes at Point Loma Nazarene College, and was called to a little church in the San Francisco Bay area. In San Diego they made me president of the Young Adult Class. It was made up of young marred couples who were mostly attending college. They were a joy to work with. There were about 20 or 30 of the most wonderful people who were so supportive and cooperative. I still keep in contact with some of them today. Anything I wanted to do – start a bible study? They were right there. Have a party? They were with me.
I thought that was how it was suppose to be. Then I got my first church. It wasn’t that way at all. Some of them didn’t really want to do anything. Some were so loving and supportive and God changed some lives during that time of ministry. But for the most part I felt so let down. One charter member family stopped tithing to try to control my ministry. God, in his humor, gave us the most success year financial in the history of the church. A few became very critical – and my preaching became harsh and aimed at straightening them out. When I look back I feel badly for not ministering to those wanting to be ministered to. Some needed love and encouragement – not rebuke and chastisement. In my inexperience I failed them.
But I prayed. I asked God to change hearts. He didn’t. He only changes those willing to be changed. But through that experience God brought me to the first principle in our Scripture. Let’s read it again.
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
1. Gently restore those in error.
It is important to realize that when one of our brothers or sisters is caught up in a sin or a fault – we have an obligation; we have a duty; we have a responsibility to go to that one and try to restore them. Sometimes just a word can turn someone’s life around. Often silence is perceived as permission – or acceptance. So we need to help each other here. But there are three conditions. First, you don’t really want to do this. If you WANT to correct someone – you probably shouldn’t. If you are chomping at the bit to straighten someone out – you probably are doing it in the flesh and not the Spirit. But if you see a fault or a sin and the Holy Spirit reveals to you that it is your duty to correct that person – they you must do it.