It's The Little Things- Pastor Gus Lohrum
Keeping It Real
It’s the Little Things – Galatians 5:7-16
June 30, 2019
Before we get into the scripture, keep in mind the situation we find in the portion of the Bible we are about to read. The Apostle Paul was confronting a teaching by Jewish Christians being spread to non-Jewish Christians. The teaching was that men non-Jewish men who had become followers of Jesus, still had to be circumcised to have the relationship with God completed. Instead of just trusting only in the forgiveness and acceptance from God through faith in Jesus.
Addition is Subtraction
I said last week, Paul’s concern seems to be that addition is subtraction. Meaning, when anything is added to the good news that we are saved by faith through grace, it is actually taking away from how the grace of God is sufficient enough to bring us in relationship to God.
So, we talked last week how Paul was highly concerned about this teaching that Paul wrote to the church with the question, “Who has bewitched you?
We don’t know for sure who was to answer the question.
Paul doesn’t name any particular leaders as he had in other letters such as 1 Corinthians.
Paul was probably targeting especially the leaders of the church who had the responsibility to teach the people, oversee and shepherd the people.
Judging by Paul’s words, the acceptance of such a false teaching didn’t happen because a few people came in with some razzle-dazzle preaching. Paul thought the deception happened through small influences that do damage.
Let’s get into the passages by reading verses 7-10
V.7 Hindered from obedience to truth.
Paul stated in verse 7, “You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth?”
That is a loaded statement. First Paul acknowledges that the people who had begun to buy into the false teaching had been doing well in living for Christ. Paul is talking to possible leaders of the church and the church as a whole.
He is talking to us, the people who attend worship consistently, seek to be involved, attend a bible study, Sunday school, seek to be financially generous, and seek to serve. His words apply to us, “YOU WERE RUNNING WELL,” and then!
I wonder how the false teaching began to be spread.
- Did the false teaching get started through a small memory someone shared about living by the Law and how meaningful the various offerings and sacrifices seem to them?
- Did someone say, we’d all be just fine if we lived by the Ten Commandments? And no one pointed out the problem was in some form or fashion no one keeps the Ten Commandments perfectly all the time?
The New King James translates verse 7 to read, “Who hindered you from obeying the truth?”
New Testament scholar John Lightfoot said the word hinder came from a military meaning which is to break up a road. (Enduring Word)
The NIV states, “Who cut in on you from obeying the truth?”
Another scholar, Dr. Doddridge said Paul was drawing from an Olympic term and it means to “cut across the course.” (Dr. Doddridge) such as when one runner cuts across a lane and hinders another as they are running.
Illustration: If you’re a casual sports fan you, might recall this past May there was a historic event at the Kentucky Derby. The horse, Maximum Security was the initial winner of the race until it was disqualified. The horse and its jockey were stripped of the win for getting in the path of at least one other horse, cutting them off, hindering them from running freely. Maximum Security was stripped of the win and Country Horse was made the winner of the derby.
That is the imagery that fits Paul’s words, something came along that, got in the way spiritually with God and began to lead people off course.
I said last week the name of this Galatians series is Keeping It Real. Paul was acknowledging that something had been a force and a factor to cause interference in people understanding and relationship with God.
But consider carefully what Paul said. He is implying the church allowed something to hinder them from obeying the truth. Followers we’re obeying, then they stopped. They started out strong, then something happened to cause them to move from obedience to truth to disobedience of the truth.
Could it have been that people became afraid that belief in Jesus was not enough and something else needed to be added?
ZACHARIAS AND VITALE
In their book, Jesus Amongst the Secular Gods, Ravi Zacarias and Vince Vitale make an excellent point. They write that fear disempowers truth. The logical, the factual can be discounted based upon fear. Are they right?
They give an example of a person having a chance to ride a roller coaster. They know it is safe. They watch people getting on, taking the ride and then getting off safe and sound. But when they have a chance to board the coaster, they pass, they don’t get on. Their choice was not based on fact, but fear. The truth is the roller coaster is safe. Fear over-ruled the truth and they didn’t take the ride and adventure. (p.224)
It could very well be fear disempowered the truth that we are saved by grace and Christians allowed something to interfere and hinder their relationship to God and choice to obey truth because they began to fear.
Fear disempowers truth.
We see this especially in the political culture and as Christians we should be very alert when we hear ourselves speaking from a point of view of fears without truth as a basis.
The political climate in our country is toxic because political leaders can make claims but not cite chapter and verse to back up their claim.
“Fear disempowers truth.”
Not Just Victims
So often when we see scriptures like these, we might apply it to ourselves as the victim.
- But we should also ask whether we could be the one hindering, getting in the way of some’s relationship with God.
- Could our influence be making it more difficult and complicated for someone else about what it means to follow Christ?
- Could we be putting expectations on someone that are unnecessary?
- Could we be discouraging someone from learning in their own way at their own pace?
- Could our example be discouraging and hindering to someone’s relationship to God, someone’s relationship to the church.
V.8 Don’t be quick to blame God for all detours.
Then Paul says, “That kind of persuasion does not come from God, or the one who called you.” V.8
There are some things we justify doing and we might add that we have prayed about it – which tends to make it sound like it has God’s approval. Verse 8 is a verse that reminds us not to quickly use God to put the stamp of approval on what we claim to be true.
I would add, if we say it is of God do, we see multiple examples in the faith stories of leaders in the scriptures.
V.9 The danger of the small negative influences
Here is the key verse, verse 9. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”
The image and analogy Paul used is familiar to most of us. It is so familiar perhaps we ignore it.
To make a loaf of bread requires a small amount of yeast.
Paul was saying that what can cut into the path of someone’s relationship with God, someone’s living out their faith doesn’t have to be a large dramatic influence or event; it can be something small or subtle.
Remember Paul questioned who bewitched you, and in the way, he asked the questioned, the responsibility is on the Christian to take ownership not just passively let the deception, the detour happen.
Paul said, a little yeast can lead to the big derailment.
It’s the little things left unattended.
What could be the little things that derail you and me from following Jesus as close as we use to and as close as we could?
How does a false teaching get into our heart so much that it begins to come out into our behavior?
Over the years I have had many people tell me they drifted from God because of something that was perceived has small, harmless, trivial was tolerated.
- Getting in a little late from work or having to start a little early led to neglect of the prayer life, spending time with God and reflection.
- A desire to complete a home project led to a person passes on worship to get the job finished.
- Bible reading stops because - you can fill in the blank.
This is why I want to pull in the reminder about the spiritual disciplines.
These five activities we find collectively from the body of teaching in the New Testament and especially found in the early chapters of Acts especially Acts 2 where it records what the first Christians did as they were a part of the Jesus movement.
They worshipped, prayed, fellowshipped, shared generously and served each other because it imitated Jesus, empowered them to follow Christ, follow his truth.
Spiritual disciplines for our lives are important because they provide a rhythm and a filter as we seek God’s leading over our hearts or minds.
Blackberry Bushes – gone wild, not producing – not pruned.
Read Jesus – John 15:1, 2 &3
Pruning = cleans a bush of unproductive branches.
God uses truth to clean, grow our attitudes/beliefs
- To hear and understand Him
- Have stronger connection
- reveal Him through how we live.
Illustration: Discouraged over Marlene/reoccurrence of kidney stone
Until - google news
2 year- old boy lost sight from cancer at age one.
God used that story to do a little pruning where a little discouragement like yeast was spreading in me.
God used that story to put my discouragement into perspective.
Just keeping it real, could there some little influences that need
pruning/challenging/changing in you/even us?
V.13-16 The power of the right influences
Sports analogy on little things
Sometimes when I am watching the press-conference after something like a football game, I noticed that a coach or player will talk about the key to their success was preparation about doing the little things right being the big difference maker in the game.
I want to read three influences Paul points to so that those who have been hindered can get back on track. I have decided to make this message a two-part message, so listen closely and we’ll pick back up on these three qualities next Sunday.
Next Sunday we’ll consider how freedom used in love by the leading of the Spirit in small ways can be used by God to help us experience him.