Yearly Rhythms: Relationships

January 10, 2023
Topic: Relationships
Book: Galatians

Speaker: Michael Dennis

Audio Download

Bible Passage: Galatians 6:1-10

Last Sunday we talked about rhythms in our financial planning and this morning we are going to talk about rhythms in our relationships with one another.  Let’s look at Galatians 6:1.

During the pandemic I broke up the passage into three points to help us follow along but this morning we are just going to jump into God’s Word.  Let’s look at Galatians 6:1:

Galatians 6:1, “1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

Galatians is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to a region of churches in Galatia, modern day Turkey.  In chapters 1-5 the Apostle Paul is encouraging them and reminding them of all they have been given in Jesus and in the last chapter, chapter 6 we see the Apostle Paul reminding them of the importance of their relationships with one another, so that in verse 1the Apostle Paul writes, “Brethren, if anyone is caught in any trespass.”

The phrase “caught in any trespass” means sinful behavior, which sounds kind of scary but the context of the verse simply means someone in their church family has stumbled into some trouble, which happens in life.

We start telling lies, exaggerating truths, wanting people to see us certain way, which sounds great at first but over time those lies create trouble.

We have times in life where we avoid God’s Word, because we want to do what we want to do, and again, at first it sounds great but over time it leads to trouble.

Even something as practical as overeating food during the holidays, something I am sure we can all relate to and at first it sounds great to overeat but if we continue in those patterns then it will lead to trouble.

Listen to me, the God of Scripture created humanity to live eternally in relationship with Him but in our sin, we pursue life apart from Him and as a result we make life complicated and get ourselves into trouble.  Does that make sense?

Life doesn’t need to be complicated.  If you look on the news, life is fearful, life is anxious, life is scary but life doesn’t need to be complicated.  The God of Scripture created all of humanity to love Him, work hard, build a family (spiritual or physical), help others do the same, and you will die a happy person.

But humanity, self included, doesn’t want to do that.  Instead of loving God we love ourselves.  Instead of working as an act of worship unto the Lord, we work as a means to bring attention to ourselves.

Instead of building up people we are consumed with building up ourselves.  And as a result, we make life really complicated.  It’s called sin!

That’s why verse 1 uses language of being “caught.”  Do you see that in verse 1?  The word “caught” in verse 1 means “to be overtaken by sin” or “ensnared by sin.”

Have you seen those Reels where an animal is stuck in a trap?  They are wrapped in barbed wire.  They have a plastic bucket over their head.  They are scared.  They are stuck and the more they pull, the more they yank, the more damage they are doing to themselves.  That’s humanity in sin!

In verse 1 we see church family in Austin where men and women are getting entangled in sinful behavior and in verse 1 the Apostle Paul writes, “You who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.”  Do you see that in verse 1?  So good!

The phrase “you who are spiritual” is talking about those who are in Christ, the body of Christ whose lives have been set free from the entrapment of sin.  This is the gospel!

In Christ, we admit that we are all sinners trapped in our sin and that Jesus, God in the flesh, has come to take our place in the trap.  Jesus lays down His life at the cross, Jesus is put to death for our sin at the cross and Jesus’ conquers our sin in the resurrection so that all who believe in Him are set free!  That’s the gospel!

The moment you believe in Jesus the chains are broken.  The old has passed away, new things have come (2 Cor 5). You are set free (John 8).  You are given everything you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1).  The yoke of slavery has been broken (Galatians 5).  All through faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  That’s the gospel!

At that point, we who are in Christ begin to grow in Christ.  We start talking to God in prayer.  We start learning how to study the Bible.  We start applying God’s Word to our life.  We start building friendships with others who are in Christ.  Theologically this is called sanctification.

That first part of coming to faith is called justification.  When we believe in Jesus we are declared righteous but, in our sanctification, we are learning what it means to live as men and women in Christ.

This is why the Apostle Paul writes, “You who are spiritual, restore those who have been ensnared in a spirit of gentleness.”  Do you see the word “restore” in verse 1?  The word “restore” in the original language, means to “equip by exposing rips and tears.”

This is the purpose of the local church in north Austin.  This is the model for the local church.  It’s possible you thought the local church was just about a worship service where we sing songs and talk about the weather.  Or, maybe you thought the local church was about a political movement.

But, verse 1 is describing the local church in Austin is about becoming a people whose lives have been transformed in Christ and we are helping one another and being helped by one another to grow in Christ.

We get ensnared in addiction, we get ensnared in fears, we get ensnared in financial debt, we become ensnared in pride, we become ensnared in marital troubles and in Christ we are all spiritual doctors, indwelled with the Spirit, helping one another and being helped by one another to break free from the entanglements of our day to find life in Jesus.

Now it is possible you might be thinking, “What does this have to do with “yearly rhythms?”  Stay with me!  The only way we have a chance at building these types of biblical characteristics in our relationships with one another is if we are setting aside time in our yearly rhythms to invest in these types of relationships.  Does that make sense?

It would be great if we could see the buckets and barbed wire and simply help one another but the entanglements in life are much harder to see, therefore, we need time with one another, we need consistency with one another, we need trust with one another.

We need a plan.  You can’t just wing it.  You begin with Christ.  You commit to a church.  You commit to a group, and then you commit to growing in those relationships to build and belong, so that we might restore rips and tears with a spirit of gentleness.

That’s why Saturday morning, January 21st (Sign up on the Realm / Deadline is January 18th) where we commit time and energy to draw out these rhythms in life and set up our year to thrive in these rhythms.  Let’s look at verses 2-5:

Galatians 6:2-5, “2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one will bear his own load.”

In verses 2-5 it looks like two competing ideas.  Verse 2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens” and verse 5 says, “Bear your own load.” Do you see that in verses 2 and verse 5?

Are we supposed to help one another?  Or are we supposed to focus on ourselves and helping ourselves?  The answer is both!

The word “load” in verse 5 in the original language is something that is “manageable” therefore, the phrase, “bearing your own load” means there are areas of our life we need to manage on our own.

We need to take showers on our own.  We need to make our beds on our own.  We need to get to work on our own.  We need to make a meal for ourselves on our own.  There are basic skills in life we need to bear our own load.

This is the principle we apply to the people who walk in our doors asking for immediate help because we can’t meet every need that walks through the door, so we try to identify some appropriate responsibility that can take for themselves accomplish on their own.

When it comes to our relationship with God, every one of us needs to take personal ownership of our faith.  We need to stop making excuses.  We need to stop blaming other people.  We need to bear our own load.

But sometimes life drops the hammer and no matter how hard we are working to “bear our own load” we are going to hit moments in life that are overwhelming.

We are going to lose a job.  We are going to go through a global pandemic.  We are going to spiral into spiritual darkness.  We are going to give ourselves over to addiction.  We’re going to get sideways in our marriage.  It happens!

Our lives in Christ are not always up and to the right so that only goodness and grace are upon our lips.  Sometimes we are going to do all the right things and life is going to pull the rug out from under us and it is in those moments we want to be in a context of asking for help so that we can “bear one another’s burdens.”

This is why our church is rallying around the focus “Build and Belong.”  We want to put in the relational time today, so that when we start go sideways in life, when we get ensnared by the sinful traps of this world, when we get barbed wire wrapped around our neck we need people in our life that we can trust to help us get free.

I am meeting with a group of men in our church right now and one of our primary goals is simply to be honest with one another.  Everyone talked about the pressure we put on ourselves to be impressive to our spouses, impressive to one another and we are trying to practice being honest with one another about where we are and the steps to move us in the direction we want to be.

Don’t you want that for our entire church family?  Don’t you want to be a part of a people who restore one another with a spirit of gentleness?

This is why January 21st is so important.  We are all at different places in our relationships with one another, and we all need a plan.

In our church family we say “friendships are formed, not found” which means we all need a plan to form those friendships. Let’s look at verses 6-8:

Galatians 6:6-8, “6 The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

In verses 6-7 we see why perseverance is so important in our relationships with one another, and verse 8 gives us an illustration of a farmer and seeds.

A farmer doesn’t typically walk into his field throw seeds, and the next day and see a harvest, right?  No, a farmer has to till the soil, add nutrients to the soil, adds seeds the soil, waters the seeds, sees a little sapling come up, and then has to fight off diseases and insects for months, so that after 9 months of sweat there is a harvest.

In the same way, we need to remember these types of relationships take time.  We can’t show up to one community group and say, “Didn’t work.”  We can’t have one conversation and say, “Didn’t work.”  These types of relationships take time!

Therefore, we want to look at the relationships the Lord has in our life and imagine the harvest.  Look at our church family in Austin, our immediate family, our neighbors, our co-workers and imagine the harvest.

Imagine a people who live open and honest lives with one another.  Imagine a people who know God’s Word and speak God’s Word over one another.  Imagine a people who encourage one another.  Imagine a people who are leading others to Christ.  Imagine marriages getting stronger.  Imagine parenting to be more enjoyable.  Imagine a life full of His goodness with one another that is so good that it spills into the community around us.

And then ask the Lord, “What seeds do we need to deposit today, so that we can see that harvest in the days ahead?”  You with me?

What decisions do we need to make today so that we are nurturing our relationship with God?  What decisions do we need to make today so that we are getting into God’s Word?  What relationships do we need to make a priority today so that we are building that type of church family in north Austin?

Or, we can sow to the flesh, do nothing, give up, cut off, isolate, check out, and in 9 months we will see a harvest.   Galatians 5 describes the harvest as fruit of the flesh (strife, jealousy, envy, fractions, division, loneliness).

But God’s Word is inviting us to sow to the Spirit, lean into the gospel, coming along side people with encouragement and gentleness, and by God’s grace we will see fruit of the Spirit in our relationships with one another.  Let’s close with a reminder of Jesus.  Let’s look at verses 9-10:

Galatians 6:9-10, “9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”

Now, when we read these verses on our own we get distracted by the word “if” in verse 9, but the Apostle Paul writes “if” because the charge in Galatians 6 isn’t a guarantee.

Believing in Jesus isn’t going to magically fix all our relationships with one another.  But, IF we don’t lose heart, IF we don’t grow weary, IF we don’t give up and quit on one another, IF we do the hard work of restoring one another in a spirit of gentleness we will see growth in our relationships with one another.

It is why the Apostle Paul uses the word “opportunity” in verse 10.”  In the original language the word “opportunity” is the Greek word “Kairos.”

“Kairos” means time or season.  It is a word that captures a sense of urgency.  Meaning the time is now!  The opportunity is now!  So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Will we get tired?  Yes.  Will we get discouraged?  Yes.  Will we see the same traps and entanglements in our life, in our marriage in Austin, in our children?  Yes.

But, in Christ, there’s no sin or offense or difficulty that Jesus can’t reconcile.  There’s no entanglement that can’t be overcome.  There’s no political divide that He can’t work through.  There’s no wound He can’t heal, but we must keep our eyes focused on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.

I share this story often but this is a good story about Florence Chadwick who intended to be the first woman to swim 21 miles from Catalina Island to the California coast.

The first time she does it a fog rolled in, and even though she had training, support, friends and family cheering her on, she couldn’t do it.

A year later she tries again, and a year later a misty fog rolls in, but this time she finishes the swim.  In fact, she breaks the men’s record by 2 hours, and a reporter asked her, “How did you overcome the fog and distance this time?”

Florence Chadwick said, “I pictured the shore in my mind, I pictured the end in my mind, and kept reminding myself that land was there.”

In the same way, we would do well to remind ourselves, in Christ, there is no conflict, tension, sin, or politician is greater, and one day, maturity will happen.

Peace will reign on earth as it is in heaven, and one day we won’t ever experience frustrations in our relationships with one another.

That is why we must set aside time on Saturday to plan for that type of execution in our lives.  The call is too great.  The distractions are too many.  The scope is too massive.  Will you pray with me?