Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 36
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|Today we look to see more of what God’s love looks like when it’s manifest in the family of God. When individuals begin to choose to walk by the Spirit, willingly led by the Word and by the Spirit of God, what does this look like in the body of Christ?|
Christ’s Love in Us
Turn with me to Galatians 6, and we’re going to be looking today at verses 2-5. I love this season of the year. One of the things I love about it is not just the theme of it; of course, Jesus being born and we celebrate His birth. But I also love the family emphasis that starts somewhere around Thanksgiving and carries us all the way through Christmas. Just a beautiful time of the year.
Speaking of family, I love the way the apostle Paul begins chapter 6, first word, “Brethren.” And I love the way he ends chapter 6, “brethren.” You say, “No, Wayne, I see “amen.” No, that’s just sealing it all. “Amen” simply means let it always be so; don’t you ever change it. But he starts with “Brethren” and he ends with “brethren.” You know what that is, don’t you? That’s a family term. And you think about it for a second. Just as Paul has argued in chapters 3 and 4 that we walk by faith—Why? Because we’re sons of God, not slaves—the same way in verse 2 of chapter 6 he shows that we should “Bear one another’s burdens.” Why? Because we’re brothers and sisters; because we’re in the family of God.
The word “brethren” is such a beautiful term for the way we think about each other and how we treat one another. It’s a beautiful term. Now, I know we’re from the South. I know that. There’s something we picked up in the South, and that is we call each other brother or sister when we’re talking to believers. Why? It comes right out of this. We’re family. That was just a way of expressing familiarity because we’re in the family of God. It’s so awesome that we as believers in every church that’s meeting together today, we’re members of God’s family. And the beautiful thing about it is we’re going to spend eternity together. Have you thought about that? I mean, eternity together.
But it’s also interesting as you think of family, the brethren terms that Paul uses. Think about it. It’s in the family that the love God is needed the most, and it’s where it’s felt the strongest. And that’s what Paul is talking about in Galatians 6, because this is a church that’s been very much factioned by the fact that they bought some wrong doctrine. God’s love is felt in us for each other especially when a brother sins. We don’t treat each other like the world would treat others. What we are to do, we respond to a brother who has sinned with sensitivity in our hearts and gentleness in wanting to restore him. That’s a beautiful quality of God’s love manifests in His people.
Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” As we studied last time, the phrase “caught in any trespass” simply means two things. First of all, the sin caught up with him and he was lured into its trap. Before you become a believer you chase after sin, but after you become a believer sin chases after you and sometimes catches you. But he not only says that, he says not only have you been overtaken by the sin, but you have been caught in the sin.
You see, that’s the two things that Paul’s trying to bring out here. That’s where the love of God is extremely needed at this time. Paul is clear that unless we’re experiencing Christ, we have no business dealing with a brother who’s been caught in a sin, even if you caught him. Paul says no, you keep your seat, because he says “you who are spiritual, restore such a one;” only those that are walking by the Spirit, only those who are filled with the Spirit of God. Why? Because only Christ in us has the sensitivity to reach out and touch a brother who’s deeply wounded by sin in his life.
But even then the spiritual ones that deal with this brother must be careful. He says, “each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” We must remember that no man is tempted beyond what we’re all tempted. It’s common to every man. The devil loves to isolate us and make us think we’re the only ones. Oh no, no. Every man, every woman, we have all the same temptations. First Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has taken you, but as such is common to man.” And so it’s just common to everyone. Any of us can fall at any time.
Well, today we look to see more of what God’s love looks like when it’s manifest in the family of God. When individuals begin to choose to walk by the Spirit, willingly led by the Word and by the Spirit of God, what does this look like in the body of Christ? And there are four things that I want you to see in Galatians 6:2-5. First of all is this: God’s love in us initiates divine action. Now, not humanistic action, but divine action; there’s a difference here. Verse 2, Paul is going to give another command. I know I say this over and over again, but it’s so helpful to remember that even though it is a command, it’s also the response of someone who’s walking by the Spirit. See, God’s commandments are not burdensome. You don’t struggle with them when you’re walking by the Spirit because God lives in us to will and to work. Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will,” God in us gives us the desire to say yes to Him, and then “to work for His good pleasure.”
So Paul says in verse 2, as he gives this command, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” Now that’s present imperative. Imperative simply means it’s a command. In other words, there’s no option here. This is what happens when you walk by the Spirit. This is the response. Bear and keep on bearing one another’s burdens. Now why would Paul say that under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God? Well, he’s already told us, because we’re family. And that’s the way family treats one another.
The word for bear is the word bastazo. Bastazo comes from the word meaning to support, to hold up. Here it means to get up under a heavy load that your brother has and help him bear up under that load. Help support him. Matter of fact, the apostle John uses this particular word to describe Jesus bearing up under His cross in John 19:17. It says, “They took Jesus therefore and He went out bearing His own cross to the place called the place of the skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha.” So the idea of bearing up under something that’s heavy.
Several thoughts went through my mind. I’m a hunter and I’m a fisherman, and I enjoy that type of thing. We have a kind of stand that you sit in. It has a swivel chair on it and camouflage around it. It’s called a tripod stand. They’re made for people under 150 pounds and only are 5 feet 6 inches tall. Every time I would draw a tripod stand it bothered me, because I knew that it was very shaky. And the little ladder that goes up to them, I mean for little bitty feet. But you start walking up into that stand, as you get into the tripod stand, one of the things that overwhelmed me every time is, is it going to support me? There is a weight that’s going to come down on it. Will it support me? That’s the word bear one another’s burdens. Do what you have to do, Paul says, to help support your brother when he’s under a load that he cannot handle himself.
Now the word for burden is a very key word, because it’s going to come back into play when we get to verse 5. The word “burden” is the word baros. Baros means the felt weight of a heavy load on someone. Now there’s another word that means to bear something, but this one always is used to describe not just the bearing, but the heaviness that’s on top of you, and you’re trying to support the weight of something. Paul doesn’t tell us what that heavy load is and I’m really grateful for that. Because really, if you look back in verse 1, it could be the consequences of sin. And he doesn’t say it’s not. And so therefore it could be carrying that thought right into verse 2, help him bear up under now the consequences of a foolish choice that that brother has made. But it could be anything. He leaves it open-ended. It could be any circumstance, not necessarily caused by sin in which a brother cannot bear up under the load that’s upon him. It may be a financial burden. It may be anything that he’s up under. But you sense it and remember the Holy Spirit gives you discernment as to what the need truly is.
Well, for whatever reason he cannot bear up under the load that he’s under. So Paul says instead of ridiculing him, instead of ignoring him, help him recover by helping him bear his burden. It’s a beautiful thing when you see this happen in the body of Christ. Years ago my momma went on to be with the Lord. Mom and I were very close. The last couple years of her life were tough. Out of 24 months, 18 of those months she spent in the hospital with chronic lymphatic leukemia and finally succumbed to that. Momma had gone on to be with the Lord, and it just sort of put a dagger in my heart because I always wanted to be with her. At least 12 different times we had flown home because they said she wouldn’t make it through night, and bless her heart, buddy she did and she would just keep right on plugging. But finally that time came. We didn’t really know what we were going to do. I had an old 73 Buick. They were 1,200 miles from home and I had a 73 Buick that would overheat 35 miles from town, and I wondered, how in the world are we going to get home. We don’t have the money to fly.
And we just got there and prayed. We said, “Lord, we don’t know what to do. I need to be there; I preached my mother’s funeral. And we were off of our knees just a little bit of time and the phone rang. Calvin Moore, who was the Sherriff, a dear friend of mine, called me and says, “Wayne,” he said, “I want you to use my car to go home for your momma’s funeral.” Now he said, “Doris and I have prayed and we believe you need to take it.” It was a brand new car. I don’t remember what kind it was. It was something big and powerful and it had everything on it, brand new. And I said, “Calvin, you can’t do that.” He said, “Well certainly I can.” And so I went over to pick up the car and when I got over there, he just lived not far from me, he said, “Wayne, here’s a credit card.” And I said, “What’s the credit card for?” He said, “You’re going to need gasoline. You’re going to need food, and you’re going to need a place to stay while you’re there if your whole family comes in. From what you’ve told me the house is not very big.” He said, “Listen, listen, God told me to do just that.”
That’s what Paul’s talking about. There was a burden I couldn’t bear up under, and here’s a man that saw it. This happens to all of us when we begin to walk by the Spirit. We see each other’s need when the first time. We don’t see it when we’re walking after the flesh, but when we’re walking by the Spirit, begin to see the need of the individual and God begins to put that burden on us to help them bear up under a load that otherwise they could not bear. This is Christ in us making us sensitive.
Now this act of love fulfills the law of Christ. He says in verse 2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” What law is he talking about? Well, remember this all connects. Back in 5:14 he told us what that law was, the law of love. It says “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” That’s the law he refers to. That law is being fulfilled when it’s manifest in an individual who’s walking by the Spirit of God and reaches out to help a brother bear up under a load that otherwise that brother could not bear.
At Christmas season all of us are reminded that the greatest example of this truth, it’s a command given by the One who fulfilled it Himself, is the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to us when we were under the load and the weight of sin. We could not help ourselves. He paid a debt He didn’t owe; we owed a debt we couldn’t pay. And that’s the whole picture. He says, He even told His disciples, “Greater love hath no man but to lay down his life for his brother.” What He did was to manifest what He now wants to manifests through us. He is the source of that love. He now lives in us. It’s Him in us reaching out to others. He expects nothing less than what He did. He expects nothing less; therefore, He lives in us to enable us to do just that.
In fact, He said in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you,” listen very carefully, “that you love one another.” “Well, I’ve heard that before, Wayne.” Wait a minute, maybe you haven’t heard it. Listen to the standard: “even as I have loved you.” That’s the standard, “that you also love one another.” So Christ’s love in us initiates a divine action. This is what fulfills the law of Christ.
I want to suggest something to you during Christmas season. I know sometimes it can be a defeating time in the year, because especially when family’s away or when you’ve had a loss of a loved one, it’s difficult to go through these holidays that way. Let me just encourage you, ask God to make you sensitive to someone else in their need. Ask God to show you the needs He wants you to meet and just get up under that with some brother and help him bear a load that he could not otherwise bear himself. Now I want to tell you, you’ll have the greatest Christmas you’ve ever had in your life, because that is Christ in you manifesting His love through you.
Well, it initiates divine action, not humanistic. Humans do a lot of things and call it love. This is divine action. But then secondly, Christ’s love in us motivates divine attitude. There’s a tremendous attitude here of the person who’s walking by the Spirit of God. Remember that when we say yes to Christ and to His Word—I love this truth—we crucify the flesh. It’s kind of like, “okay, flesh, bother me now!” And you say yes to Jesus. It can do nothing. It is dormant. It is disengaged when we say yes to Christ. Now it is only then that this attitude that we’re going to talk about comes forth. Otherwise you may be doing something to help somebody, but it’s not with the right attitude. It may look the same on the outside as you’ll see in a minute. But what Paul is going to refer to here is a divine attitude which you have when you reach out to somebody to help them out. There’s no way a believer can think of himself as somebody when he does this. There’s no possible way when he’s living a surrendered life. It is only when we get our eyes off of Christ that we begin to think of ourselves as somebody and especially when we do something nice and reach out to help a brother who is in need.
The divine attitude is the one only God can produce, but what flesh produces sometimes is mistaken for that. Verse 3: “For if anyone thinks he is something when he’s nothing, he deceives himself.” Now the word “for” connects the thought. I’d never seen this. I’d studied some in Galatians before, but this is the first time I saw the connection here. It almost looks like disjointed verses if you’re not careful. That little word “for” connects everything he’s about to say. It all has to do with bearing a brother’s need. It all has to do with the love that God’s Spirit produces in our life. And I believe what he’s doing, he’s weaving a divine tapestry together. You see the results of what the Galatians had fallen into, which was a performing mentality. Do we understand what I’m saying here? I mean, a lot of people can go out and do a lot of things, but only Christ in us can do through us what He demands. We can try to imitate it and religion imitates. Christianity’s the real thing. That’s Christ in us, living His life through us.
Well, these results that sometime are produced by religious effort, by flesh being in control; sometimes the results look the same on the outside to the untrained eye and to the untrained mind. You see, when the flesh does something—by the way, this is one way to know the difference—when somebody helps you, but it’s done out of the means of the flesh, then you owe him from that point on. And there’s a string attached to what he does. And that’s the difference of what happens when God does it; the person who’s being helped never feels that he’s in bondage to the person helping him. He knows it comes from God. That’s your difference. The flesh will do good things, but you’ll be obligated. But when the Spirit produces that very same thing it’ll be with an attitude that is divine and it’s an unconditional act of love towards that person.
Now he says, “If anyone thinks he is something.” The word for “thinks” there is dokeo. Dokeo means to imagine or consider. The interesting thing is, it’s in the present tense. Paul’s describing an attitude. This is not a fleeting thought that goes through someone’s mind when they try to help somebody. No, this is a man that has become very proud of himself and of his situation. He’s describing an attitude. Thinking we are something can happen to any of us when we’re not walking by the Spirit. As a matter of fact, that is the essence of not walking by the Spirit. “I don’t need You, God. I’m somebody. I can do it myself.” And so we think we’re somebody.
When we’re up and others are down, a fleshly mindset thinks, well, we must be doing it right and they must be doing it wrong. And therefore there’s more of a judgmental attitude towards people who cannot bear up under certain things in their life. And when we think this way, our motivation in helping them out becomes one that edifies what we’ve done rather than them being helped in the dilemma that they’re facing. Pride and self will rule our life instead of Christ, and therefore there is no tenderness and gentleness and sensitivity with which this act is done. Paul told the Romans the very same thing in Romans 12:3. He says not to think more highly of themselves than they ought to. You see, in all of our lives when this high-mindedness is there, then regardless of the act, like I said, there is no love, there is no sensitivity, there is no Christ-likeness. It’s a hard brutal thing, and the people are left really more damaged, even though they’re helped in one way, than they could have been if Christ had of done it.
“If anyone thinks he is something when he’s nothing.” Now, that word means “when he’s nothing,” it means he’s of no account at all when it comes to spiritual matters and things of God. He’s a zero with the lid kicked off, a kind of a term I picked up early on in my life: A zero with a lid. I like what A.T. Robertson said—every Greek class I ever took at seminary in college had a chair there empty in memory of A.T. Robertson—and A.T. Robertson said if anyone thinks himself to be a big number when he’s really a zero, that’s kind of clear. You see, a lot of people are that way because they’re successful, or maybe they’re healthy, or whatever’s going on in their life. They tend to think that they’re somebody. Now they do good things. Don’t hear me wrong. Religion will do good things, but here’s the downside. Even the people watching them do it, they think they’re somebody because of what they’ve done.
But I want you to know, God’s the one who has the last word on this. God’s the one who determines whether or not the love was there when it was done; not man, God is. If the love of Christ is not being manifested as he walks by the Spirit, then he’s really nothing. He thinks he’s somebody, but he’s really nothing. “Well, look at all that I did,” and God says it’s going to burn at the judgment seat of Christ. Now we understand the judgment seat of Christ, don’t we? When we stand before Him one day, our works are going to be tested. We’re not going to be tested—we were tested at the cross—but our works are going to be tested, 1 Corinthians 3:10 ff says that. And it says they’ll be tested by fire. Wood, hay and stubble which are, is flammable, that which the flesh produced. Or it’s precious stone, that which only God’s Spirit can manifest in a person’s life.
Well, Paul says “He deceives himself.” If he thinks he’s somebody when he’s really nothing, he deceives himself. The word “deceives” is phrenapatao. Phren means mind, and apatao means to seduce into error. And listen, it’s in the present tense. And he says, by his very thinking that he’s somebody, because he’s not down and out as his brother might be, he is seducing himself into further error. That’s interesting to me. It’s one thing for you to deceive me; it’s another thing for me to deceive myself. It just goes back to walking after the flesh. How deceived we become, but it’s self-deception. When we walk by faith, surrendered to Christ and His Word, we cannot think of ourselves as being anything because that’s the prerequisite of walking by faith. We’re nothing apart from Him. He’s everything in us. That’s the root attitude. And then Christ does something through us that will be eternal and is divine. It comes out of a divine attitude.
So His love in us initiates divine action, but it also motivates divine attitude. But then thirdly, Christ’s love in us instigates divine activity. Now, I’m not talking about meeting the need of the brother. There’s something else that goes on here. Think what Paul is doing. If the flesh is motivating our actions, rather than the Spirit of God producing them in our life, towards a hurting brother, then we’re thinking we’re somebody and we’re priding ourselves as to what we’ve done. But here’s the downside: if this is so, then in helping them, look what we do—we do this all the time—we tend to measure what we have done in comparison with what somebody else has or has not done. And therefore there’s a competitiveness that gets into this. “I did more than you did.” “I’m going to have more rewards than you have.” “I gave more money last year than you gave.” And it’s just that fleshly mindset. “What do you mean? I’m spiritual, look what I did last year.” And it becomes competitive. We begin to compare ourselves.
The idea of this came in an email. Four brothers left home for college and they became successful doctors and lawyers and they prospered. Some years later they chatted after having dinner together. They discussed the gifts that they were able to give to their elderly mother who lived far away in another city, comparing who gave the most. The first one said, “I gave a big house. I had a big house built for momma, a big house.” The second one said, “Well, I had a $100,000 theater built in that house.” And the other one said, “Huh! I had my Mercedes dealer deliver her an SL600 to drive.” The fourth one said, “Listen to this. You know how momma loved reading the Bible, and you know she can’t read it anymore because she can’t see very well. I met this preacher who told me about a parrot that can recite the entire Bible. It took 20 preachers 12 years to teach him. Now in order to get this parrot I had to pledge a contribution of $100,000 a year for the 12 years they spent training it, which was 1.2 million dollars. But it was worth it. I had to pledge that to the church. Momma just has to name the chapter and verse and the parrot will recite it for her.” The other brothers were really impressed. Man, they have been outdone.
Well, after the holidays mom sent out her thank you notes. She wrote Milton, “the house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house. Thanks anyway.” “Marvin, I’m too old to travel. I stay home. I have my groceries delivered. So I never used the Mercedes. The thought was good however. Thanks.” “Michael, you give me an expensive theater with Dolby sound. It could hold 50 people, but all my friends are dead. I’ve lost my hearing and I’m nearly blind. I’ll never use it. Thank you just the same.” Dearest Melvin, you were the only son to have the good sense to give a little thought to your gift. The chicken was delicious. Thank you!”
Oh, me! I just love stuff like that, especially when it fits a point. Paul shows us that we need to examine our own work. But now listen, not in regard to somebody else’s. Melvin thought he had really done it. Galatians 6:4, listen to what he says, and this is all tied together. That word “for” connects all these verses: “But let each one examine his own work [his own work!], and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone and not in regard to another.”
Now, that word “examine” is that divine activity I have been talking about. It’s the word dokimazo. Dokimazo means to put something to the test to make sure it’s genuine; it’s approved. And there are two words for tests. I don’t want to bore you with it, but there’s that word peirazo, which means to put something to the test to prove that it’s unworthy. But dokimazo means, as it’s used here, it’s always used as God tests us. It’s always a good thing, to prove us, to prove Himself, to prove us genuine. That’s the word used here. So we must make certain. Paul says that we test everything that we do to make certain that it’s approved, that it’s genuine. We are to make certain that our works pass, not man’s test, because man will look upon it and think it’s one thing; that it passes God’s test. What test? Whether or not they’re produced by the Spirit, wrapped with the love of God, or whether or not they’re produced by the flesh, which leaves the person deeper in bondage than he was to begin with. Each of us are to test our own works.
Verse 4, “But let each one examine his own work and then he’ll have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone and not in regard to another.” The word for boast, kauchema, normally is used in a sinful sense, etc., but here it’s used in a special way. It gives him a reason to pay attention, to speak only of that which he has done after it has been examined to make certain that it’s of God. There’s such a needed thing. Paul is simply saying that we should be examining our works, especially those that help others, because flesh can imitate that. Many times you hear about people being good. Have you ever heard the phrase, “if anybody deserved to go to heaven she did,” or he did? Excuse me. Is there anybody who ever deserves to go to heaven? No, it’s only because of Jesus Christ. But what we’ve done, men look upon works differently than God looks upon works. And therefore he said it causes and instigates a divine activity. That activity daily is to make certain, “Oh God, let this be of You, not of me. I want no credit for it. I don’t want anything back from it. I want You to be glorified by what’s done.” That’s the love of God moving and manifesting itself in our life.
Christ’s love in us, initiates divine action, motivated divine attitude. But it instigates divine activity as we test our works according to God’s standard, not man’s. Is the love there? Was it brought up by God Himself? But finally, Christ’s love in us originates divine accountability. This is interesting here. This is very individual. It’s funny that, through life, it took me a long time to learn this, and I’m still learning it. God only gives Wayne grace for what is Wayne’s responsibility. It’s the same way it is in your life. He’s not going to give you grace for what is somebody else’s responsibility. He’s going to give you grace for that which He purposes within your own heart, just like it is with me. Each of us must realize that we have a responsibility for the burdens, yes, that God—now listen—individually puts upon our hearts. Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m talking about. When we have corporative missions and things like that, that’s not at all what Paul’s talking about. Paul’s talking about something much more practical in the sense of everyday living.
Verse 5: “For each one shall bear his own load.” Each one shall bear his own load. The word “bear” is the same word we saw back in verse 2, bastazo, to get up under, support it. “But now wait a minute; it sounds contradictory. It says back in verse 2, we’re supposed to help a brother bear up. Now it says you have to bear your own load.” Well, the key is the word “load” in verse 5. There’s two different words altogether. The word “bear” is the same word; the word “load” is the word phortion. Oh, it’s a beautiful word. It’s used of a ship that’s carrying what’s been assigned to it, carrying a cargo. It’s used of a soldier carrying their assigned pack that he needs to carry, his backpack. What it means simply is that the responsibility, each one must bear his own responsibility, that which God has assigned individually to him. In verse 2, believer, like I said, are told to help. But verse 5 does something different: You have an individual responsibility.
“Must bear his own load.” The word “his own,” idios. Idios means that which is individually peculiar to him. It’s something that no one else can help him carry. This is his responsibility. Now, in the context, if you keep it all tied together and it all flows out of the same well. Contextually it would be that person that Christ puts in front of us, that need that Christ identifies in us that that person has. And He didn’t identify it to the person sitting next to us. And He didn’t identify it to the person sitting behind us. He only identified it to us, and we now are responsible to bear our own responsibility.
Each of us will minister to different people. Did you ever notice that? The people God put in front of me won’t be the people God puts in front of you. The people God puts in front of you won’t be the people God puts in front of me. I mean, it works that way. It’s individual, very individual. What happens so often when we choose not to obey that command and take up our own responsibility, we take our burden God has put upon our hearts and we put it upon somebody else.
I had the dearest staff member in the church I served for many years. And we came into a staff meeting one day and he made this overwhelming blanket statement. He said, “This is the most unspiritual church I’ve ever been around.” And I said, “Well, David, how did you come to that wonderful conclusion?” He said, “Well, I saw a person in need and I identified that need and I put it in the bulletin that the church ought to help them.” He said, “It was during Thanksgiving and only three families obeyed that bulletin notice that I put.” He said, “People are just insensitive around here.” I said, “Make sure I’ve got everything correct in my mind. God burdened you with that individual, that family. You took your burden and dumped it on the church and only three of them bought back into it. Is that what you’re telling me, David?” He looked at me with the sweetest smile and he said, “Oh, I’ve done it again, haven’t I.”
We all do it, don’t we? It’s much easier for me to tell somebody else who I think has the money to do what God’s burdened me with, because then it doesn’t cost me anything and the person gets helped. God didn’t say that. We have our own backpack to wear.
What responsibility does God put in front of you? It may be a family member, maybe a neighbor, maybe somebody that’s at the store. You were overwhelmed with the burden and just the fact that that person was under a load that they couldn’t bear. I don’t know how that works. But God assigns us peculiarly and individually. We can’t say as Moses, “Here am I, send Aaron.” It doesn’t work that way. God says, “I’m going to hold you responsible. Not only did I give you the burden, I’m going to give you the grace to carry out that responsibility which is yours, not somebody else’s.” God’s Spirit in us gives us a discernment as to what He wants us to meet.
Boy, just think about it. In a perfect world—we’re not there—but in a perfect world, wouldn’t it be awesome if every believer walked by the Spirit? How many needs would you think would be left hanging out there? You see, God would have individuals meeting needs that nobody else even knows about. You know why they don’t know about it? Because the people meeting those needs don’t think of themselves more highly than they ought to think. They don’t want credit for it. They want God to get the glory for it. Wouldn’t that be incredible? God’s the only One then can be glorified because nobody’s doing it for any other reason but because God burdened their heart.
Again, the greatest example we have at this season of the year certainly is the Lord Jesus and what He did for us. He was the only One that could carry out that assignment. In the 12 disciples, He’s the one who went to the cross, not the 12 disciples. He saw us in our sin, unable to help ourselves. He saw our burden that sin had put us under, and though He was God, Philippians tells us, He didn’t even flinch leaving heaven and stooping down making Himself of no reputation whatsoever, masking Himself in the very flesh of that which He created, but it was sinless. He became the sinless Son of man. He was the sinless Son of God for eternity, but He became born of a virgin, the sinless Son of man. He lived a perfect life. And then took our sin upon Himself and went to the cross and died, resurrecting the third day, ascended, glorified. Now He lives in us.
That same Christ of Christmas lives in us and He wants to manifest that exact love through us to others, even when we have to make ourselves of no reputation to reach out and touch somebody who has a load they cannot bear. No wonder the angels sang. No wonder heaven opened up. No wonder! Look who’s come. Look what He came for. He now lives in us to love others through us.
His love in us initiates divine action. It motivates divine attitude; it’s an attitude that only God could give to you. Instigates divine activity’ we test our own works. But originates divine accountability; I’m not accountable for what God burdens your heart with. I’m accountable for what God’s burdened my heart with. And I walk before Him and will stand before Him one day as we see Him.
You say, how in the world do I apply a message like this in my life? Well, let me see if I can help you. When you see a brother in need, are you moved immediately to do whatever you can to help that brother? Are you motivated with the correct burden for them? In other words, in doing this do you have a tendency to look down on them and say, well, you know if you just get your life right everything will be okay? Do you have that? Or if that’s not there, it’s just a broken heart and a sensitive heart towards that brother? Okay, that’s a good sign. Do you desire that your actions are only of God? Do you even understand that there are two kinds of works that are good works? One will burn, one will last. Are you concerned about that? Do you seek attention for the things you have done for others? Do you want people to know what you’ve done? Do you always have to tell people “I gave this last year? I did that. I helped him or I helped her.” Do you have to do that?
Do you realize that a need does not necessarily justify a call? If God’s burdened somebody and they’re trying to dump it on you, you see the need, but maybe that’s not the burden God has for you to meet. Do you understand the difference there? Do you force your burden upon other people rather than accepting it yourself? Do you realize that God will direct you to the people you should be ministering to?
Just some good questions to think about, because if God’s love is working in us, it’s not drawing attention to us, it’s drawing attention to Him. It’s so divine and so supernatural. There’s not a man living that can say “I came up with that myself,” no sir. God beautifully identifies that and that’s how He works into our life. This is a great season of the year to be in this chapter, isn’t it, because that’s what Christ wants to do through us. The Christ of Christmas still lives.
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Dr. Wayne Barber
Wayne has taught the message of “Living Grace” around the world. He is president, founder, and principal speaker of Living Grace Ministries and Senior Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He learned to exegete Scripture by studying for 10 years with Spiros Zodhiates, one of the leading Greek scholars.