Galatians 1:9 (NLT)
If anyone preaches any other gospel than the one you welcomed, let God’s curse fall on that person.
Paul must have been very distressed by the strife and turmoil that was going on in Galatia. Here people had received the good news of Christ’s salvation, but now others were trying to put extra burdens on them. Why is it that people seem to want to add burdens to others? What is it about another person’s walk that so consumes us? Don’t we have enough to work on, without taking on the burden of others? Why can’t we take care of our own messes, do we think we have to fix the whole world?
I think it has to do with the fact that we think it is easier to control other people than it is to control ourselves. Our hearts are too corrupt – so let’s take on another person.
I am distressed by people that try to fix other people. Whether it be music, eating, health habits, worship style, or just their general growth in the Lord (fast, slow, or stagnated?). I remember when I first became a Christian. We were surrounded by behaviorists who were not shy about telling us what we needed to do to become better church goers. Don’t, don’t, don’t – we heard a lot of that. So, my family and I conformed.
Eventually this became too much of a burden on me. All I felt was shame and guilt for not living up to “the standard.” So, I threw it all away and went my own way. When it became apparent that my way didn’t work, I started searching for God. I found Him in many places and eventually started going to church again and was baptized.
Of all the places I looked – Buddhism, Scientology, various Christian churches, Amway, bowling leagues, disco/clubs, sex, drugs, rock’n roll – it was the Seventh-day Adventist Church that best followed the Bible and it’s teaching. This is where I best understood God. However, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has a reputation for being legalistic and that scared me. So, I had a conversation with God. I said, “God, I’ll do what you tell me to do, but I’m going to ignore these others who think they know what is best for me.”
This worked well for years. God led me, discipled me, and grew me into the Christian I am today. Eventually I came to understand that God can use other Christians to speak to me – but I am more mature and discerning now and I’m able to filter out those who are trying to correct me for the wrong reasons.
Yes, the Holy Spirit is the best teacher in my life. But, like the people Paul is talking about, I have to be careful to discern whether people are speaking for the Lord or whether they are merely trying to control me out of their own dysfunction. When it is God leading me to the “next level,” I grow in grace and peace. When it is someone speaking out of their need to control, I experience shame and pressure.
My goal is to continue to work past my dysfunctions and to get past my shame. I need to work through my issues – in Christ – and become a tool used by God. It isn’t my place to control others. I am called to be a leader, teacher, and coach. This creates the environment in which people experience transforming change.
Dear God, I’m ready to be used by you. Continue to change me, mold me, and fashion me. Raise me into the pure and holy atmosphere of your love – where the rich current of your grace can make me into the man you created me to be. Forgive me for my dysfunctions. Forgive me for being controlling. Forgive me for being a jerk.
Change me God, transform me. Use me.
Today, I surrender to you. Please use me as best you see fit.
I love you too God!