Grinches That Steal Christmas

Nov 29, 2015 | David Crosby

The Grinch of Giving Up

Scripture Text: Galatians 6:1-10

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

 

Sermon Notes

Eeyore is one of my favorite characters from the children’s literature. He is part of the band in Winnie the Pooh. He is the donkey who is generally down in the mouth and sad.

His friends forgot his birthday, he thought. He was disturbed and downcast and repeated to himself. “Nobody knows. Nobody cares. Pathetic, that’s what it is.”

This particular attitude can creep into your brain and your heart. It can take root until it skews your view of the world and clouds your judgment. Sometimes we become so negative about life that we just give up.

Don't Give Up On People

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently” (v1)

“The human race is a virus” kind of thinking.

  • Restore people gently.
    • Everybody falls. Evil is active and aggressive in our world. This is true because of the devil. It is also true because of people who want us to join them in their sin. And it is true because our own fallen nature is bent away from God. To be overtaken in a fault is a generous way of looking at moral failure. It is to give this person the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes there is no doubt—this person was himself aggressively looking to commit sin and doing so with wicked glee and inviting others to join him. Sometimes moral failure looks like pure spiritual lostness.
    • Katartizo—mending the nets, putting a finger back in joint.
      • My father’s knee went out often when I was a boy.
    • Gently—“in a spirit of meekness.” We do not need to be bombastic in our concern for others. We need to be perceptive, sensitive to their need, and be led of the Spirit as we suggest a different course for their lives.
  • Remember your own moral vulnerability in this holiday season. This season should be about family and faith. But it often becomes more about partying, drinking, and stepping outside the boundaries of wisdom and discipline.
    • I found a young white-tailed deer that had tried to jump a barbed-wire fence and just missed. She had hooked her back foot on the top strand, turn that hoof through the second strand, and ended up hopelessly snared by the two wires. Trying to free her from her trap was very hazardous. She had three hooves that were free to kick and punch, and they were sharp. I know it seems impossible, but sometimes people simply forget that they themselves are susceptible to temptation. They charge in to a sinful mess to try and fix it, and end up catching a hoof themselves.
    • Be very careful when you are entering the realm of your own greatest weakness, whatever that may be. You may not be the person who needs to help in that instance.
    • Be very careful about trying to rescue those who have previously caused you to fall. The pattern may repeat itself. You may not be following the Spirit even though your intentions are good. Your own spiritual condition is a prerequisite for helping the one who is ensnared.
  • Help people with their burdens to “fulfill the law of Christ.”
    • Burden-bearing is a joy not a downer. We should not be reluctant to bear one another’s burdens. This reluctance is truly a lack of love. We are challenged to over each other deeply.
    • What burdens? The burdens of guilt and shame are always part of being “overtaken by a fault.”
    • All persons have burdens. We should remember this always so that we will not think that we are special in some way because of our own pain or trouble. Some of these burdens we see upon the shoulders of our brothers and sisters. Some of them we do not see. They are invisible to us. We will only know about those burdens if we get to know that person.
    • What is the law of Christ? He has been in a harangue about the uselessness of the law for righteousness. Now he mentions the law of Christ. Jesus said, “a new commandment I give you, to love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

 

Don't Give Up On Yourself

“If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves” (v3)

  • Be honest about who you are. “Think soberly.”
    • Be honest about your motives. “Each one should test their own actions” (Gal. 6:4).
    • This is an important and difficult discipline—checking your own motivation.
    • What is the supreme motivation for helping others? Love. So we should check our love quotient when we prepare to help. Are we acting in love for others?
  • Stop comparing yourself to others.
    • You have gifts and talents and capabilities. You should be honest about those gifts. You should delight in them. When you are operating in the area of your giftedness and your passions, you are highly effective and productive.
    • You must stop comparing yourself with others who have different talents and abilities and callings. These comparisons are always destructive whether you think you come off well or you think you come off poorly.
    • We live in a world full of competition—athletic, academic, professional. Competition can be healthy. It can help us achieve our highest potential. But it can also be destructive. It can make us feel like losers. The truth is, if we have a good sense of ourselves, losing can be one of the greatest motivators and teachers. My losses are more important in my moral development than my successes. I thank God for the races I lost because they shaped my soul in a positive way.

 

Don't Give Up On Doing Good

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).

  • We reap what we sow.
    • The garden metaphor. I put okra seeds in the ground. Guess what came up? An okra plant!
    • This metaphor is used frequently in Scripture for a variety of reasons. It is used to encourage giving of our tithes and offerings. The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:6 that our financial gifts are seeds that produce a harvest.
    • Here the Apostle is expanding that to include all of our good deeds. He is saying what Jesus said (Mark 10:42), If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.
  • We are all sowing with our actions, our deeds, our works. We are dropping seeds in the grounds with the smiles, the snaps, the happy greeting, and the sour disposition. We are planting these things everywhere around us.
    • People can sow “to please their flesh.” Those misdeeds that are self-indulgent, self-centered, and self-destructive come home in a harvest. Sometimes you “sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” In the end, operating in the flesh will bring death.
    • People can sow “to please the Spirit.” We can follow God’s prompting in our attitudes and actions. When we follow the course of love, we are sowing seeds that will bring the harvest of eternal life.
  • Sometimes we get tired doing good, and we want to give up. I confess that this happens to me.
    • Sometimes I don’t see the immediate harvest of my deeds of love, and I wonder if there will be any harvest. If I shoot my enemy, I can see that I have eliminated my enemy. He is dead. That is an immediate outcome, highly visible, to my deed. Of course, his comrade may shoot me in turn. That, too, would be an immediate outcome, and would confirm the words of Jesus, “They that live by the sword die by the sword.”
    • If I love my enemy, as Jesus commanded, I am not likely to see an immediate outcome. After the act or acts of love, he may still be my enemy. He or his comrade may shoot me. That could be the outcome of my act of love. In the process of love, I may lose my life, which is just what happened to Jesus of Nazareth, whom we call Lord and Savior, and whose example we are compelled to follow in this laying down of our lives.
    • The promise this Christmas: “at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).
    • Therefore, what? Do you believe in this principle, this lesson? Are you so trapped in negativity that you cannot receive this truth? I don’t believe this about you. You can receive this truth of the harvest of our loving deeds. Therefore, “as we have opportunity, let us to good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (v10).

 

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