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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, July 1, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Galatians 6:1–16

My brothers and sisters, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads.

Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher.

Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh, but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all and especially for those of the family of faith.

See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything, but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule—peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. (NRSV)

Reflection
Although the letter to the Galatians is best known for Paul venting his frustration at how this fledgling community is turning away from what he taught, Paul’s tone makes a distinct shift in this final chapter. Coming on the heels of a proclamation of the “fruit of the Spirit” in the verses before (Galatians 5:2223), Paul emphasizes personal responsibility in the close to his letter—challenging the Galatians to “bear own another’s burdens” while taking care to not boast or be filled with pride whenever they do so.

Our denomination—and many others that arose from the Reformation—has a complicated history with how we understand our “works,” or our actions. Many of the reformers (rightly) sought to emphasize we cannot earn our salvation through what we do; salvation is given by God alone through God’s grace and love. Somewhere along the way, though, we have become perhaps too focused on orthodoxy (right beliefs) and less concerned with orthopraxy (right practice), acting as though our beliefs and actions are somehow distinct rather than recognizing the powerful effect that our actions and our beliefs have on one another.

“Let us not grow weary in doing what is right,” Paul charges both the Galatians and us, “whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all.” For Paul, living by the fruit of the Spirit and emphasizing personal responsibility was not a negation of one’s faith and belief. Instead, we trust our actions are continually shaping us into the new creation we believe God has called us to become.

Prayer
God of grace and love, help me to live according to the fruit of your Spirit—trusting that every time I choose to live in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, you draw me and the world around me closer through your love. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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