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Archive for Fellowship

Bear One Another’s Burdens

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:34). The Christian is firmly under the law of Christ. The church of Jesus Christ is one body having individual members (1 Cor. 12:27). God has set up the individual believers as it pleases Him (1 Cor. 12:18). There are no second-class citizens in the body. Every part of the body is needed. If one part suffers, we all suffer – if one is blessed, we are all honored. Some parts are weak, some are strong. The strong are to help the weak (1 Cor. 12:19-26).

 

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load”(Gal. 6:1-5).

 

Paul used the word “burden” twice in one paragraph. We are told to bear each other’s burdens, and we are also told to bear our own burdens. At first glance, this may seem like a contradiction. Though the words for “burden” in English look exactly the same, in the original text they are entirely different. The first word for “burden” means a heavy crushing load. Every believer at some time in life will go through burdens which cannot be carried alone. This is when fellow believers are to step in and help ease the heavy crushing load. By doing so, we fulfill the law of Christ. The law of Christ is His law of love, which is the law that is to govern the Christian life (John 13:34).

 

Paul used another word for “burden” when he said, “For each shall bear his own burden.” This use of the word carries the idea of a person wearing a personal backpack. Paul meant that each child of God must be responsible for his or her own personal fellowship with Jesus Christ, for our own spiritual growth. Church members cannot live the Christian life for other church members. Husbands cannot grow spiritually for wives, nor wives for husbands. Parents cannot grow spiritually for children, nor children for parents. We must all bear our own individual responsibilities before the Lord.

 

It is one thing to teach grace, but it is another to accept it every day and extend it to others. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to allow God to be gracious through us. Every Christian will sin. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Believers will lose fellowship with the Lord, but they can never be removed from His family (2 Tim. 2:10-13). God in grace allows us to fail and not become a failure.

 

What is to happen to believers who are overtaken by personal sin? Paul said, “Those of you who are walking with Jesus Christ should help restore this believer to fellowship.” This word “restore” means to set a broken bone. A Christian out of fellowship is considered to be a broken bone in the body. We are told to set the broken bone by encouraging this believer to get back into fellowship with Christ. The restoration to fellowship is a private matter between the believer and God. Every believer is told to confess personal sins or to judge ourselves before God. Why? “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). “If we judge ourselves, we will not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:31). This encouragement is to be done with the spirit of meekness (strength under control) and always considering our own weakness. After encouraging the believer, leave the issue between them and the Holy Spirit. We should always be conscious of the fact that we may be the very one that needs help the next time.

 

Paul used this principle of restoration as an illustration of what it means to walk in the Spirit. Why? Nothing exposes the weakness of a ministry filled with legalism any clearer than how the ministry deals with fellow Christians who have stepped out of bounds. Legalistic believers are often critical and judgmental. Rather than extending grace to siblings in Christ, they gossip about, malign, and criticize those who have fallen aside. Instead, we are to extend the same kind of grace to them as God extended to us in Christ. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you” (Eph. 4:31-32).

 

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:6-10). From the very beginning of the church, sharing all things marked the lives of believers (Acts 2:41-47). The Greek word for “sharing” is “in common,” and it means that believers in fellowship with Christ will have all things in common. Believers are to have a common fellowship in the body of Christ (Gal. 2:9), a common faith (Jude 3), a common sharing of the sufferings of Christ (Phil. 3:10), and they are to share materially with each other (2 Cor. 8:4). Blessings!

 

Be Sure Your Sin Will Find You Out (part 2)

God told the Jews that their sin would always find them out (Numbers 32:23). Because of Achan’s secret sin, the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel (Joshua 7:1). They began to lose battles. Joshua was confused and began to whine and complain. God’s response was quick and decisive. He said to Joshua: “Get up! Why are you lying on your face? Israel has sinned. For they have even taken some of the accursed things and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff” (Joshua 7:10–11).

One can just hear the rationalization today: But God, is that so horrible a sin? No sin is ever small to a holy God. His righteousness must always be in perfect balance with His justice – always! “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face” (Psalm 89:14).

Achan confessed that he had stolen property (Joshua 7:18–20). Achan was guilty, and he confessed, but sin always has its consequences (Romans 6:23). Achan and his entire family were killed. This seems to be severe punishment for such a seemingly small crime. God’s judgment always fits the crime. This message is now penned in the Bible for a thousand generations to read and heed.

As a young man, David had a heart for God. So much so that God selected this simple shepherd boy to be the king of all Israel. His family produced the line from which the Messiah would come. His throne is the throne upon which our Lord will one day reign. Yet David became a tremendous example of how believers can and do sin and how God disciplines those whom He loves.

There came a time in Israel’s history when all the soldiers went off to war, but David, the warrior king, stayed home. This was not good. One morning he got up early, walked out on his roof, looked across the way, and saw a woman bathing. She was very beautiful. David was overcome with lust. He found out that her name was Bathsheba and that she was the wife of Uriah the Hittite – one of his best soldiers.  

David had the woman brought to him. She bowed before his wishes because he was the king. When she informed him later that she was pregnant with his child, David sent to the battlefield for Uriah. David hoped that her husband would go in to his wife so that Uriah would think that the child was his. Uriah refused, saying that he would not enjoy his home life while his men were fighting.

David was frantic. At his command, Uriah was shipped to the front line of battle where he was killed. Like Achan, David tried everything to cover his sin, but he could not (2 Samuel 11:27).

God sent Nathan the prophet to give David a house call. Nathan gave David this illustration. He said that there was this very wealthy man who had thousands of sheep, but this neighbor had one little lamb that had grown up with his children. A guest came to eat with the rich man, and the rich man stole the little lamb from the poor man to feed his guest. David was furious and lashed out. How dare that man do that! “He shall repay fourfold for the lamb, because he had no pity” (2 Samuel 12:6).

There was probably a long, deafening silence. Nathan said simply and probably quietly, “You are the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). David’s sin had found him out. It always does. David’s confession was simple and sincere. “Against You (God) and You alone have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4a).  Did he not sin against Bathsheba? Yes! Did he not sin against Uriah? Yes! Did he not sin against the entire nation of Israel as their king? Yes! David realized, however, that his sin was against God. He had rebelled against Him, and that led to the domino effect that touched all the other lives. David asked God to purge him from the guilt of his sin, to wash him and make him as white as snow. David cast himself entirely upon God’s grace. There was no arrogance and no prideful attitude. He did not blame others. He took full responsibility. He brought out all the details. He cried out to God for forgiveness (Psalm 51:1-12). David’s greatest desire was for God to restore to him the joy of his salvation. David had not lost his relationship with God, but He had lost his personal fellowship. After his confession, he was forgiven. Forgiven! That is one of the sweetest words in any language. David’s joy returned (Psalm 32:1–6). Stay safe and stay tuned.

 


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