Gospel Changed Relationships

Published on Oct 9th, 2013 by Pastor Ed Hlad | 0

In Galatians 5:26 Paul writes, “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”  Tim Keller does a good job of pointing out that we often see how being conceited (conceited means empty of honor.  This emptiness of honor causes us to act sinfully in order to get the honor we lack) can cause us to provoke someone (provoke really means to challenge someone) but often fail to see that envying someone is also a result of being conceited.  When we envy it is about us and what we want.  It is not about loving the other person.  So superiority and inferiority can kill relationships and both are from being conceited.

 

What is also important to point out is that feelings of superiority and inferiority are also results of a works-righteousness mentality.  This has been what Paul has been attacking in the book of Galatians.  A group of false teachers has been claiming that if people would obey the law then they could become righteous in the sight of God.  Paul has been arguing that it is only through faith in the work of Christ on the cross that we can gain any righteousness.  One of the results of believing that obeying rules can gain you righteousness is it will destroy relationships.  When you try to become righteous and thus gain worth through obeying rules you will act superior to those who do not obey the rule that you do or you will continually fall short and feel as if you do not measure up.  Do you see how both of those are sinful and from the same source?  They both believe that their honor or worth is wrapped up in performance.

 

The beauty of the gospel is how it sets us free from that slavery.  We were created in the image of God and perfect.  Through Adam we all fell and became totally and utterly sinful.  In this natural state we do not receive the things of God.  Romans 3 tells us that we do not seek God or understand anything about God.  And then God the Holy Spirit touched our lives and we responded in faith and he brought to us a new life.  He brought to us the righteousness of Christ.  An alien righteousness.  A righteousness outside of ourselves.  Paul says in Ephesians 1 that he blessed us with all spiritual blessings.  II Peter says that we have become partakers of the divine nature.  These truths free us from seeking to find our honor or worth in ourselves or in our actions.  It cannot be done.  Our honor and worth come from the creator of the universe who has come to live inside of us.  I love what Tim Keller says about this as he shares how the gospel gives us a humility because we know that we are sinners saved by grace.  But the gospel also gives us a great boldness in knowing that the only one in the universe who matters is pleased with us because of Christ.

 

How is your self worth?  Are you still struggling with the old nature as you find yourself living a life of comparison?  You believe you are an ok Christian because you do not…or you do….?  Do you even find yourself being snippy with some people because of their lack of righteousness?  Do you sometimes talk about their sin to others to make yourself feel better?  Do you go home defeated every Sunday because you just don’t think you will ever be as good a Christian as others?  Do you find yourself just quitting in your Christian life because you continually fail?  I would encourage you to stop looking and defining who you are by your actions and start finding your worth in the truths of the gospel.

 

One last thought.  Do you realize how much we pump this kind of thinking into our children’s lives?  I know that we need to teach our children what is right and what is wrong but when we emphasize that a good girl does…or a good boy does…. that only emphasizes one side of the coin.  We cannot make ourselves a good girl or a good boy by our behavior but only through the work of Jesus on the cross can we become good.  God then gives us the righteousness of Christ and we can then act in a godly manner.  That acting is a result of a changed life.  To only teach our children to do right is to plaster behavior on the outside that masks the unchanged life on the inside.  It sets our children up for failure.  All Christian parents will agree with those statements.  But when we stop and think about how often we speak about doing right and how little time we spend speaking of the gospel our hearts are convicted.   If we do speak of the gospel it is during times of devotion and often separate from times of disciplined instruction.  Is that because we are still living our lives with a works-righteousness mentality?  Are our lives still defined by what we do or don’t do?  We must allow the Holy Spirit to use the gospel to set us  free from the superiority/inferiority treadmill.

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