Have you had a family game night recently?
Whenever my family sits down to play a board game or card game together we have fun. But, we also inevitably have conflict! We have a competitive one who does not like to lose. Playing those games often ends up turning into a counseling session for conflict management.
I think Paul must have played board games with the Galatians and dealt with some of the same things. Read our passage today and see what I mean.
Galatians 5:26–6:1 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.  Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (ESV)
Getting to the Heart:
Back on May 4th I wrote, “How would you describe the state of your relationships right now?” Would you describe them as tense? Peppered with conflict and arguing? Defensive postures and attacks with words? It’s inevitable that conflict comes, and sometimes it’s the board games that reveal it. How should we respond in times of relational conflict?
- Don’t be conceited (5:25). This word “conceited” actually means seeking after empty glory for yourself. Another way of saying this would be, “Don’t seek to fill up your insecurities by seeking the wrong things.” This type of glory-seeking hurts other people in two extreme ways: provoking and envying. The superior person who has beaten others or who is in a more stable life situation looks down on those lesser than him. Those who envy know they aren’t winning and want to drag down the one who is. The best thing to do at this point is recognize this tendency in each of us to feel insecure and spot the ways we express it: looking down on those we perceive as “losers” and envying those we perceive as “winners.” There’s a much better way than this system.
- Let the spiritual restore their brothers with gentleness (6:1). What does it mean to be “spiritual”? Well, it doesn’t mean to be a special Christian, thinking of some category that a normal Christian can’t become. There aren’t Christian categories such as “special” or “normal.” No, this means those who walk by the Spirit. That means those who see their great need of Jesus and are every day humbled to follow Him. Those are people who can help others caught in the system of “winners” and “losers.” In fact, if we keep thinking in terms of “special” and “normal” Christians, we inadvertently continue living in the system of “winners” and “losers”! Each of gets caught in a trespass (these are the works of the flesh) from time to time and need a gentle reminder that the Spirit and Jesus are working for us and in us.
Let’s talk it over:
- Do you see how conceit can show itself in your life as either provoking or envying others? Which tends to show up most in your life: provoking or envying?
- How could the two principles in the “Getting to the Heart” section help you with relational conflicts you experience? How would you apply them in a way of talking to yourself and others when conflict arises?
We thank You, Father, that You have provided a better way through Christ than to live as winners and losers in life, always provoking and envying. Thank You that our confidence is in You and what You determine about us, not in what we can establish by our own works or the worth we can get for ourselves by comparing to others. Please help us to keep in step with the Spirit, remembering Jesus our Lord, and seeking ways to love one another and so fulfill the law of Christ. Amen.
Worship in Song:
Memory Passage: Galatians 5:22–24 But the _____ of the _____ is _____, ____, _______, ________, ________, _________, ___________,  ____________, ____________; against such things there is no _____.  And those who __________ to Christ Jesus have _______ the flesh with its _________ and __________. (ESV)