Today, we receive this word from Paul which reminds us how we can be in relationship with those around us.
Galatians 5:13-15 13 You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. 14 All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. 15 But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other!
Even though we are free in Jesus Christ, we should be careful not to take advantage of this incredible gift. There is always the chance that those who Christ has set free, will begin to think any way of life is okay and begin indulging into acts and temptations that should be stayed away from. Just because we are free does not mean we can do anything we want. This is what we should be careful of.
Paul reminds us here that the entire law can be summed up with this one phrase: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This seems easy enough, in theory; but it can be excruciatingly difficult to show love to someone who is acting very unlovable. We all know people who are unlovable and are around them daily, and we will do everything we can to either get away from them or make their day as bad as possible.
Here are some things to consider. Even those that we consider unlovable are loved by someone; and, even though we find someone else unlovable, we are considered to be unlovable by another person. Sometimes the same thing we find hard to manage or bad qualities, others may feel the same way about us. How does this sit with you? This really makes me think about how I am viewed in society and how I should treat others with more grace.
These verses end with this warning: “But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other!” This is something we may not take as seriously, or we may have skimmed all together and not have paid that much attention to these words. Paul is arguing not to let the freedom we have in Christ go to our head and make us think we are more valuable than another person. We are all equal in Christ and Paul reminds us of this throughout Galatians.
What Paul is saying at the end of these verses is that we can destroy each other (emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally, relationally, etc). Paul is warning against this. If we think more highly of ourselves, another person could feel the same way about themselves and them trouble can happen. With this warning, Paul reminds us we should work to live in peace and allow love to build up the community, not having knowledge puffing up our egos.
Paul can give some harsh words in his letters, but they are words we need to hear and allow to make a home within our hearts and minds so that we can be transformed with the peace and presence of Christ within us to make transformations in the world around us.