Devotion 363 – Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost (Evening)

Opening Prayer

Lord, send us the power of the Spirit through Your Word. Amen.

Text: Galatians 5:25-6:10

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Devotion

Those who “live in the Spirit” should “walk in the Spirit.” Life must go on and the fruits of the Spirit show themselves. The spiritually liberated are constrained by love to serve one another. “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all” (1Co 9:19). All that I have is the Lord’s, for the upbuilding of mankind. – Let us heed the holy Apostle’s warning to bear one another’s weaknesses! It must be so.

Bearing with one another and helping each other urge us to wash one another’s feet. We all know this, but we forget it in the reality of life, when others are overtaken by some sin! Why? Note well how the Apostle sets “ambition” alongside “envy,” and how he warns against self-righteousness when he exhorts us to love and to be patient. Whoever has “desire for passing glory” and “thinks himself to be something,” is not like the gentle Savior and cannot bear others’ burdens. Such a person thinks to himself that he is meek and loving and zealous for the brethren, but does not understand that he is looking himself in the mirror and is pleased with himself. He thinks about other people’s sins: “I don’t do that, I could never do that;” and he excludes the erring from God’s kingdom. What would have happened to Peter after his fall in Caiaphas’ courtyard and later in Antioch if you had been the judge? You forget that Jesus said to the woman who was caught in adultery: “Neither I do condemn you; go and sin no more” (Joh 8:11). You forget the parable of the speck and the plank (Mat 7:3-5; Luk 6:41-42). You do not understand what it is to take up someone else’s sin and to take it away. (I’m not speaking about atoning, but interceding.) You are proficient at condemning others for not living a godly life, but you yourself are unable to live that kind of life. Truly, God has the deepest aversion for such spiritual bloodthirstiness; such executioners of souls He does not recognize as His children. You think yourself to be something and call yourself “spiritual,” but you are fleshly and deceive yourself. Test your own works, as everyone should do, the Apostle says, but he does not invite you to test the works of others. If you must look at their sin, then take it on yourself, as Daniel and Nehemiah did with the sins of their people, and confess them to the Lord as your own. Bear with the weak brother, and suffer the pains of love for his sake. That’s how Jesus bears with you and him. His blood cleanses you both, and you practice the blessed art that only love understands: to “cover a multitude of sins” (1Pe 4:8). Fellow believers, ponder this Epistle, and follow its golden teachings.

Closing Prayer

God, help us to walk the path of meekness and love. God, help us to bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ. God, help us to sow in the Spirit and to reap eternal life from the Spirit. Amen.

Hymn

True gentleness and patience pure,
These ought to be our measure sure,
That when our neighbor goes astray
We rage not quickly in the fray
And bring him shame instead of love.
Lord, grant us wisdom from above.

From love’s divine and purest source
Spring forth good works with healthy force;
For love is humble, gentle, mild,
Regarding each as God’s own child,
And always loves true unity
In faith and peace, forever free.

Kingo: Den Naade, Gud os haver ted L 535:3.6.7 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune Vater unser (ELH 383); alternate hymn:The Law of God is good and wise ELH 492

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