In our last post, we saw that the Christian life is like a three-legged race. The key to running well is to keep in step with the Spirit. When we keep in step with the Spirit, we are running our lives well. To go back to the metaphor of fruit, we display the fruit of the Spirit.
Love is the first fruit of the Spirit Paul lists. Paul loves LOVE. In 1 Corinthians 13:13, he says this about love: "13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
It’s no surprise, then, that he describes the life of one who is keeping step with the Spirit as a life of love. He doesn’t use the word “love” itself, but he uses a phrase that means “love”... “the law of Christ”. Read verse 2: "Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
What is the Law of Christ? In Matthew 22:36-40, Christ was asked what was the greatest commandment in the Law. Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus states that our entire lives should be consumed with love for God and for others. Love is the Law of Christ. Whereas the Old Testament Law of Moses enslaved its followers, the law of Christ sets us free to love. When we keep in step with the Spirit, we love.
In Galatians 5:26, Paul describes what this love should look like: "Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another."
When we love, we won’t think of ourselves more highly than we ought. We won’t think, “Hey, I’m better than that person.” We won’t provoke and envy one another. We will seek to do what is best for one another. We will love one another enough to bear each other's burdens and restore each other to a life of walking by the Spirit.
Consider Galatians 6:1: "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."
Imagine that you are watching another brother or sister in Christ running their race. They’re boogying right along with the Spirit, and THEN THEY SLIP!
That’s what the phrase “caught in any transgression” means in the original. It’s really anyone who makes a misstep or a false step. In other words, it’s someone who falls out of step with the Spirit and steps into sin.
So you’re watching this happen. What are you going to do? Laugh at them? Turn away in embarrassment? Yell at them in anger?
Or will you LOVE them (displaying the fruit of the Spirit) and help them get back in step with the Spirit in GENTLENESS (another fruit of the Spirit)?
I’ve seen some pretty nasty wipeouts during the Three-Legged Race. I’ve seen some ankle rolls. Kids slamming down to the floor. Luckily, no one has been injured.
But--in our walk with the Spirit--if we get out of step, there can be some devastating consequences. God knows this, and He invites His children to avoid those things which lead to death and walk with Him.
He also invites us to help others keep in step with the Spirit. Again, imagine that see a brother or sister in Christ stumbling:
The husband who has a wandering eye
The classmate who you know is cheating on their schoolwork
The co-worker who flies off the handle
Your friend who just wants to try out a OUIJA board
Another church member who is grumbling and gossiping about certain issues
What will you do? Will you ignore them? and say, “They answer to God. It’s not my problem.” Or do you aim to restore them? Bear each other’s burdens.
I’ve seen someone in a Three-Legged Race fall to the ground. And I’ve seen someone else try to pick them back up again. That teammate is bearing their burden.
I’ve seen brothers and sisters in Christ fall.
Will someone help them up? Will YOU help them up? Will you bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ? Don’t think you’re too good to help. "For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.
You’re bearing another’s burden out of love. You don’t care if others are standing around doing nothing. YOU who are spiritual should restore them in gentleness. YOU are to keep in step with the spirit and so fulfill the law of Christ.
In Galatians 5:25, Paul gives this great challenge to the Galatians and to all who follow Christ.
He writes, "If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit."
In English, the word “if” indicates that there’s a possibility that it’s true or not. If I say, “If we go to Kroger later, then we’ll pick up a turkey.” Are we going to Kroger later? Dunno. It’s a big “if”.
But Galatians was written in a different language (Greek) and was translated into English so we could read it in our own language. If we look back at the original, this “if” actually means “since”... as in, “Since we live by the Spirit”. So then, Paul is saying...
“If we live by the Spirit…” and we do. According to John 3:1-5 and Titus 3:5, the Holy Spirit is the One who regenerates us and gives us new life. We LIVE by the Spirit so... “Let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Awana is our children’s ministry on Wednesday nights, and part of our time together is Game Time. Some of the games are relays, races around the Awana Circle. One of the most challenging races is the Three-Legged Relay. Clubbers are paired together and a velcro band is placed around their inside ankles. Once the whistle blows, the race is on!
What is the key for the running their race well? Keeping in step.
Now think about the Christian life. In Galatians 5:7, Paul says, “You were running well.” This is a race that we’re in. And the starting gun goes off and, according to Galatians 3:2, we start running with the Spirit.
What’s the key in our life to running well? Keeping in step.
“Keep in step with the Spirit.”
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. 6:1 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. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.