Sermon 2831. Burden-bearing
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MAY 17, 1903.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, AUGUST 26, 1886.
"Bear you one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.. .Every man shall bear his own burden." Galatians 6:2,5.
OBSERVE, dear Friends, that the Apostle says in the second verse of this chapter, "Bear you one another's burdens, and sofulfill the law of Christ." These Galatians had been trying to bear the heavy burden of the Law of Moses. They had, as faras they could, put themselves, again, under the old Ceremonial Law. They had forsaken the Gospel way of justification by faithand had sought to be made perfect by their personal obedience to the Law of God. Now, the Apostle, as though he would expelone affection by another, says, "You want a law? You wish to be under a law? Well, here is the law of Christ-yield yourselvesto it! Instead of observing the outward ceremonies of the Levitical law, here is a living law which touches the heart andinfluences the life-obey that law. You are Christians. You have come under law to Christ by the very fact that you are notyour own, but have been bought with a price by Him-now see to it that you yield implicit obedience to the law of Christ."
It is somewhat remarkable, I think, that many of those who are self-righteous and apparently pay much regard to the Law ofMoses are usually quite forgetful of that which is the very essence and spirit of that Law. They are so righteous that theybecome stern, severe, censorious-which is being unrighteous-for the righteousness even of the Law of God is a righteousnessof love, "for all the law is fulfilled in one word," that is, "love." A self-righteous man is not generally a man with a tenderspirit. He looks at that which is hard and stern in the Law and he begins to be hard and stern himself-there is none of thesoftness, sweetness, gentleness and graciousness which even the Law, itself, required when it said, "You shall love the Lordyour God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighboras yourself." Paul did well, in the mood in which the Galatians were-as they wanted to be under law, to remind them of whatis the essence of the Law of God and he did still better by reminding them that they were under law-to Christ, whose law emphasizesthe love which even Moses, himself, had taught under the old dispensation!
These Galatians had most foolishly sought to burden themselves with a load which neither they nor their fathers were ableto bear. After being set free by the Gospel, they had gone back to the yoke of bondage, so the Apostle, in effect said tothem, "As you have been so bewitched and fascinated that you want burdens to rest upon you, here are burdens for you-'Bearyou one another's burdens.' And, as you want law, here is law for you-so fulfill the law of Christ." It was characteristicof that sacred craftiness, that holy ingenuity, which was so conspicuous in the Apostle Paul that he worded his argument thus,that he might draw the attention of these Galatians to it, fix it upon their memories and, if possible, reach and influencetheir consciences.
Should there be any of you here who desire to come under the yoke of bondage, or who wish to be burden-bearers, or who findgreat music in the word, "law," I hope you will discover all these things in the text. I see in it, first of all, community-"Bearyou one another's burdens." Then the latter part of the text teaches us immunity. You are not bound to consider other people'sburdens so much as your own, that you become responsible for them. No, "every man shall bear his own burden." Then the thirdpoint, which will be a further opening up of the fifth verse, will be personality. "Every man shall bear his own burden."
I. First, I see, in the text, A MARVELOUS COMMUNITY. "Bear you one another's burdens." What does this mean?
Well, dealing with it first, negatively, it does notmean that we are to burden one another. There are some whose religionconsists in laying heavy burdens upon other men's shoulders while they, themselves, will not carry them for a single yard.You recollect that sect of Pharisees with whom our Master was always in conflict-they have their representatives in thesemodern times. Why, even this text, itself, is twisted by some into a reason for burdening others. "'Bear you one another'sburdens,'" they say -"do you not see, Friend, that you have to help me?" Yes, friend number one, but do you not see that youare not to go and burden that other friend? It is true that you have to bear his burdens. Let the first application of thispassage be to yourself, and be not eager to apply it to your neighbor from whom you want to draw something. You have begunby violating the spirit of the text, not only by not bearing your brother's burden, but also by thrusting upon him your ownburden without taking his in exchange! I say this because I have often found that men naturally draw this inference-"We areto help one another, therefore, please help me." The proper inference would be, "We are to help one another-where is the manwhom I am to help?" Is not that the most logical conclusion from the text? Yet such is the selfishness of our nature thatwe begin straightway to say, "This text is a cow, I will milk it," not, "this text gives me something to do, so I will doit," but, "This text gives me a chance of getting something and I am going to get it." If you talk like that, it proves thatyou are out of gear with the text and have not entered into the spirit of it at all.
The text does notmean that we are to spy out our brother's faults. Its context shows that the word, "burdens," here means,"faults." "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness;considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear you one another's burdens." To a good man, a fault is a burden. The worstburden that he has to carry is the fact that he is not perfect-that is what troubles him. Now, you and
1 are not to go about the world spying out everybody else's faults. "He is an excellent man," says one, "but." Now stop there!You have said already quite enough, you will spoil it if you say another word. "Ah," says another, concerning someone else,"she is an admirable woman, an earnest worker for the Savior." Stop there! I know what you are going to say something thatmight make it seem that you are about as good as she is and perhaps a little better, and you are afraid that the light ofyour star would not be seen unless you first covered up that other star! But it must not be so! "Bear you one another's burdens."Bear with one another's faults, but spy not out one another's faults.
I think I have heard a story of Mr. Wesley going several times to a certain town where he thought that there was a band ofearnest Christian people, but he was met by a Brother who told him how dead they all were, what little life there was in theirPrayer Meetings and how much of inconsistency there was among them. When he got there, he did not notice anything of thissort, so, the third time he went, he said to this Brother, "How is it that you always meet me and tell me of these thingsabout the Brethren! Nobody else ever seems to say it." "Well, you see," he said, "Mr. Wesley, I have a rare gift of discerningspirits." "Oh," said the good man, "then wrap that talent up in a napkin and bury it, and you will have done the best thingpossible with it. The Lord will never ask you what you have done with it if you will only keep it to yourself." I believethat there was great wisdom in that advice. There are still some who have only that gift of spying out other men's faults.That is shocking, dreadful, horrible! So, after all that, my Brother, shut your eyes and bend your back. If you know thatthe burden is there, bow down to help bear it, but do not stand and point at it, and seem as if you wished to do that Brothera discredit.
Further, the text does notmean that we are to despise those who have heavy burdens to bear. For instance, those who have thegrievous burden of poverty. "Oh," some say, "there is a large number of persons attending at such-and-such a place, but theyare all poor people." So you think little of poor people, do you? Then what poor souls you must be! "Oh, but," says one, "such-and-sucha person is always afflicted and very sad." And do you despise the afflicted, especially the mentally afflicted, the desponding,the sorrowful among God's people? Do you turn away from them and say, "I cannot endure talking with persons of that sort-theyare so sad in temperament and disposition"? But the Apostle says, "Bear you one another's burdens," which means-do not runaway from other people because you see that they are burdened. If you say, "I like to be with the cheerful and the happy,I cannot go and spend my life in comforting the mourners in Zion"-is that mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, whowas meek and lowly, and who did not break the bruised reed, or quench the smoking flax? O Brothers and Sisters, we need tobe schooled in this matter of showing
sympathy with the sorrowful! No doubt it will drag our own spirits down if we really have fellowship with those whom God hassorely afflicted in mind, but we must be willing to be dragged down-it will do us good! If the Lord sees that we are willingto stoop to the very least of His people, He will be sure to bless us. I sometimes like to sing that verse that Dr. Doddridgewrote, and I hope I can sing it truly-
"Have You a lamb in all Your flock
I would disdain to feed?
Have You a foe, before whose face
I fear Your cause to plead?'
The second half of the verse is much easier than the first half. You might be able to stand up like young David before Goliath,himself, for there is something grand and noble in such an action as that. But to go looking after the poor little lambs ofthe flock that scarcely seem as if they are alive, is quite another matter. Yet that is what the text means-"Bear you oneanother's burdens." Carry the lambs in your bosom, be tender to such as are afflicted. Be, as your Master was, of a gentle,loving spirit, seeking to bear the infirmities of the weak, especially you who are strong, for, if you are like those fatcattle described by the Lord in the prophecy of Ezekiel that thrust the lean cattle with side and with shoulder, and pushedwith their horns those of the herd that were sickly, then the Lord will order you to be taken to the slaughterhouse, for thatis the lot of the fed beasts that are so big and brutal! The tall tree is uprooted in the breeze which only bends the lowlywillow. Blessed are they who never exalt themselves over the weak and afflicted among the children of
Nor do I think, dear Friends, that our text could be made to mean that any of us may dare to live as if all things existedfor our own use. Are there not some people who seem to feel that they are the center of all creation and that all things werecreated for their honor and glory? The working people round about them are so many "hands" to be employed by them at the lowestpossible rate. The whole stream of trade must be so directed as to conduct the golden liquid into their capacious reservoirs.Politics and everything else must be so arranged that they shall prosper, whoever else may suffer loss. As they go throughthe world, their great concern is to mind the main chance. "Every man for himself," is the motto of their lives and they tryto get as much as they can-and to keep as much as they can. Perhaps even their benevolence is only self-indulgence thinlyveiled, for they give alms that they may be seen of men.
There are some Christian people-at least, I call them Christians by courtesy-whose main thought is about saving their ownsouls. Their favorite hymn is not in "Our Own Hymn Book"-
"A change to keep I have,
A God to glorify-
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky."
That is nothing but a kind of spiritual selfishness-living unto yourself! There is something that you want to get and thatsomething is what you strive after. Blessed is that man who is saved beyond all fear and who, for the love he bears his Lord,lives wholly and only to prove the power of the Grace of God that has been bestowed upon him-and earnestly seeks to be themeans of saving the souls of others. The Doctrines of Grace do this for us, by delivering us from all fear with regard tothe future and fixing us firmly upon the Rock of Ages. They turn our thoughts away from self to the service and the gloryof our God. I delight to sing-
" 'Tis done! The great transaction's done.
I am my Lord's, and He is mine' and to feel that as He will never lose me, nor permit me to lose Him, I can turn all my thoughtsto the rescue of my fellow-sinners who are going down into the Pit. If God shall grant us Grace to enter into the true spiritof the Gospel, having been delivered from every burden-both of this life and of that which is to come-we shall be preparedto bear one another's burdens and so to fulfill the law of that Christ who has set us free from the law of sin and death whichwas in our members.
I have thus shown you, negatively, what the text does notmean.
But, dear Friends, to take our text positively, we can see that it must mean, first, that we are to have great compassionupon those who are bearing the burden of sin. You cannot bear the burden of their sins for them-only Christ can do that-butyou can help them to bear their burden. I mean this. Here is a troubled soul who has begun to seek the
Lord and the poor creature is in great sorrow of heart. Get alongside that burdened one and say, "Now, dear Friend, I am verysorry for you. I feel as burdened about you as if it were my own soul, not yours, that was in trouble." Ask the Lord to helpyou when you have left that person-after speaking with much prayer and many tears, go home so grieved that you cannot sleepand keep on crying to God in secret about that soul. Then, when you get up in the morning with no burden concerning your ownsoul, because God has saved you, still feel that you have to carry the burden of this poor soul who does not know the Lordand, at last, you get to feel as if you could not live if that soul did not also live! If it will not repent, you seem tofeel the burden of its guilt. If it will not believe in Christ, you wish you could believe for it. Of course you cannot repentand believe for it, but you canbelieve aboutit and you can, by faith and prayer, bring it to Jesus' feet and lay it there!The Holy Spirit often draws sinners to the Savior by means of the love of Christians. We can love them to Christ and if welove them as the Apostle Paul did when he travailed in birth for them until Christ was formed in them, it will not be longbefore we shall see them converted. I am sure that it is so-and that one great secret of soul-winning lies in the bearingof the burdens of the unconverted.
But we must take special care, dear Friends, that we do this in the case of backsliders because the text, in its context,alludes to them most particularly-"Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual, restore such an onein the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear you one another's burdens." If that backsliderhas been awakened to a sense of his true condition, he will feel very unhappy-so be very sympathetic towards him. He may beafraid to come back into membership with the church-if so, go after him and encourage him to return. If he says, "I have broughtdisgrace upon the name of Christ," try to bear part of the shame that he feels. If he says, "I cannot face So-and-So," sayto him, "I will stand between you. Or I will go and plead for you." Take to yourself, as far as you can, the shame and thedisgrace which belong to the backslider. Try to get right into his place. I am sure that there is no other way of settingbroken bones that is equal to this. There is no way of bringing back the wandering sheep like that which the good shepherdtook when he lifted the poor creature right up on his own shoulders. It was too worn and weak, and weary for him to lead itback, or drive it back, so he carried it all the way! And, Brothers and Sisters, let us carry the backsliders on our own shouldersin the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. As far as it is possible, let us compel them to come in once more that God's House maybe filled-and let us take the burden of their grief and of their shame, upon ourselves. Thus shall we carry out the injunctionof the text-"Bear you one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
Next, the text seems to me to mean, "Be very patient with the infirmities of your brethren." "Oh, but, So-and-So is very quicktempered!" I hope that it is a burden to him to be quick tempered and if so, that is an additional reason why you should bearwith him. "But So-and-So is really very bitter in spirit." Yes, alas, there are still some people of that sort, but you areto bear with them. I hope it is a burden to them if they have even a tinge of bitterness in their nature, so bear with it."I do not see why I should," says one. Well, then, open your eyes and read the text! "And so fulfill the law of Christ." Ifthe Lord Jesus Christ can put up with you, you ought to be able to put up with anybody! "Oh, but some people are so exacting!"Yes, some of you know that I am sometimes very exacting. When I am suffering very greatly from gout, if anybody walks heavilyand noisily across the room, it gives me pain. Well, then, what do you think happens? Why, they go across the room on tiptoe-theydo not say to one another, "We cannot help it that he is ill and that our noise gives him pain. We shall walk just as we alwaysdo-we have a right to walk like that." No, no, they do not need even to be asked to move about quietly, but they say, "Poorman, he is so ill that we must be as gentle as we can with him." Could not you look in that kind of spirit upon Brothers andSisters who are not quite all that you would like them to be, and say, "They are not well spiritually," and deal very gentlywith them, "and so fulfill the law of Christ"? We who are Christians are to live together in Heaven forever, so do not letus fall out by the way. Come, my Brother, I have to bear a great deal from you and you have to bear a great deal from me,so let it be give and take all the way through. "Bear you one another's burdens," not I bear yours without you bearing mine,but I bear yours and you bear mine-you put up with me, and I put up with you. And in that way we shall both "fulfill the lawof Christ."
Does not the text also mean that we are to bear one another's burdens by having a deep sympathy with one another in timesof sorrow? Oh, for a sympathetic heart! Seek after it, beloved Christians! Seek to have large hearts and tender hearts, forthe world is full of sorrow and one of the sweetest balms to sorrow is the sympathy of Christ flowing through the hearts ofHis own redeemed ones. Be tender, be full of pity, be full of compassion.
But this sympathy must show itself by actual assistance, rendered wherever it is possible. "Bear you one another's burdens."Let the burden of poverty be borne by those of you who have no poverty of your own. Succor your brethren in their times ofneed. Light their candle when their house grows dark. Blessed are those men and women who addict themselves to the ministryof the saints and who seek, wherever they can, to lighten the burdens of life for their fellow-Christians, lending their shoulderswhenever they can give support to the weak.
Brothers and Sisters, we should also bear one another's spiritual burdens by helping one another in our soul-struggles. Iam afraid that in some places of worship Christian men and women come up to the House of Prayer and go home again withoutever speaking to one another! I do not think that is the case, here, but it is the case in many places, especially in veryrespectable places of worship. There they go in and out as if they were all self-contained and could not speak to one another,especially if they happen to be half-sovereign people and a half-crown person is anywhere near- they cannot speak to him atall. This is all contrary to the mind of Christ. In our Church fellowship, there should be real fellowship and we should conversewith one another. In the olden times, "They that feared the Lord spoke often, one to another," and Christian people shoulddo the same today-and you who are elders in the church might often say a word that would help a poor young friend who is strugglingto do right. You who are joyous might often lend some of your sunbeams to those who are in the dark. And you ought to do so-itwould be to your own profit as well as to the profit of others. Trade produces wealth and the inter-trading of Christians,exchanging their good things, one with the other, would tend to the spiritual enrichment of the entire body. God help youto do so by fellowship with one another!
"Bear you one another's burdens" also by much prayer for the other. When you have prayed for yourself, do not end your supplication.Keep a little list of people to be prayed for and try to put down, on your list, certain things which you know trouble themand which also trouble you-and bring them before the Lord. In some way or other, bear you those burdens which God lays uponyour brethren!
II. The time flies so quickly that I can only speak very briefly upon the second point, that is, IMMUNITY. "For every manshall bear his own burden."
Let us always, for our comfort, remember that there is a point beyond which we cannot go in bearing one another's burdens.After you have prayed for anyone and conversed with him-and he still continues in sin, you are ready to break your heart abouthim. Yes, it is right to feel like that, but do not be so unwise as to take his sin actually to yourself If you have warned,prayed, instructed and set a godly example-and men will still sin-their sin is their own and their blood will be upon theirown head.
And, next, do not take the shame of other people's sins upon yourself beyond a certain point. I have known a good man ashamedto come to the House of God because his son had disgraced himself. Well, his sin does dishonor his father, but, still, asyou did not commit the sin and you did not do anything to contribute to it, do not feel ashamed as that! I have known someChristian people very seriously injured by the shame which they have felt because some distant relative or some near relativehas misbehaved himself. Go to God with it, but recollect that it is not your sin and it is not your shame, either. Bear itso as to sympathize and pray about it, but not so as to be, yourself, ashamed and depressed because ofit!
Remember, also, that we cannot take other people's responsibilities upon ourselves. I am responsible for faithfully preachingthe Gospel, but I am not responsible for your reception of it. If I preach the Truth of God and there is not a soul savedby it, I am not responsible for that. And if you, dear teacher in the Sunday school or if any of you Christian workers havelabored in vain, if you have been faithful to God, I do not think that will happen-but if it does and it may happen in somemeasure-do not seem to bear that responsibility, for the text says, "Every man shall bear his own burden." I find it difficultto make young Brothers, when they begin to preach, feel sufficiently the burden of souls. But every now and then, I have metwith a Brother who has felt the burden of souls so much that he has scarcely been able to preach at all! That is a pity, because,after all, the salvation of souls lies not with us, but with God. And if we have faithfully declared the whole counsel ofGod and can call God to witness that we have not kept back anything of His Truth that we knew, or failed in faithfulness orearnestness, we must leave the matter there and fall back upon the eternal purpose of God and throw the responsibility ofthe result upon our unbelieving hearers.
III. I have not time to speak as I would like upon the last point. That is, PERSONALITY. "Every man shall bear his own burden."
That is to say, every man, if he has any religion at all, must have personal religion. You cannot get to Heaven by your mother'sgodliness, or by your father's graciousness-there must be a work of Grace in your own souls. No man can be a sponsor for anotherin spiritual things. There is no more gigantic lie than that one person should promise that another shall do this and that,which he cannot even do himself! No, "every man shall bear his own burden." Everyone must come, with his own sin, to his ownSavior and, by his own act of faith, must find peace through the blood of Jesus Christ. Do not trust to any national religion,for it is utterly worthless. It is only personal'religion that can save you. If the blood of saints is flowing in your veins,it brings you nothing except greater responsibility, for salvation is not of blood, nor of the will of man, nor of the willof the flesh, but of God, and of God alone.
And every man should bear his own burden by personal self-examination. I would never think of asking another man to give mehis opinion of me and I hope you will not do so. Search your own souls, "examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith.""Oh, I do not like self-examination!" says one. So the bankrupt said-he did not like casting up his accounts. But when a manin business does not cast his accounts up, his accounts will soon cast him up-and when a man does not like to examine hisown heart, depend upon it, the time will come when Another will examine him and he will be found lacking and be cast awayas worthless!
Next, this text means that there must be personal service.' 'Every man shall bear his own burden." That is, if you and I aresaved, we must, each one, have a work of his own and we must set to work and do it personally. The Lord has put each one ofus into a position where there is something we can do which nobody else can do-and we are bound to do it and not to beginthinking of how little others do, or how much others do, but to say to our Lord, "What will You have me do?" Let each ChristianLevite bow his shoulder and carry some burden for the Lord's House.
And every man should make a personal effort to bear his own burden. We have a certain number of persons about who seem asif they never can do anything for themselves-they have to be carried wherever they go. I think I have told you of a set ofportraits that I have at home-they represent my two sons, taken on their birthdays while they were quite little boys, andthen taken every birthday till they had grown to be young men. Well, at first, they are in a baby carriage and it is veryinteresting to see how they have grown every year. But there are some of you who have been in baby carriages ever since Iknew you-and you are still in baby carriages-and I have to keep wheeling you about! Oh, I wish you would grow up! We are allpleased to have dear little children and we do not mind how little they are at first. But if, after they were fifteen, sixteen,seventeen, or 20 years old, our boys were the same size as they were when they were a year old, we should feel that we werethe parents of poor little dwarfs and it would be a great trial to us. And it is a great trial to us spiritual parents whenwe are the fathers of dwarfs! Oh, that you would grow up, Brothers and Sisters! God help you to grow out of yourselves, yourinactivity and your listlessness, that every man and woman shall say, "I am big enough to bear my own burden. By the goodnessof God, I will get so much Grace and so much help that I will do some work for the Lord, and do it thoroughly. I will bearmy own burden-not sit on the top of it and fret and cry, and ask somebody else to bear it for me-but I will bear my own burden."
I will finish by saying that the text indicates that everybody has own burden. "Every man shall bear his own burden." Youlook at somebody else and you say, "Ah, I wish I had his load to carry!" I do not think that I ever met with more than oneperson in the world with whom, upon mature consideration, I would change places in all respects. I have thought, once or twice,that I might do so, but soon there has been a hitch somewhere, and I have said, "No, I will go back into my own shell, afterall." I think, sometimes, that I would not mind changing places with George Muller for time and for eternity, but I do notknow anybody else of whom I would say as much as that. But I daresay that even he has his own burden, though he has not toldme about it when I have talked with him.
And that good woman who always looks so smiling, God bless her! She has a skeleton at home in the closet. And that good Brotherwho is always so bright and cheery-yes, he has a burden, too. There is a cross for everyone and I want you to feel that itis so, because it would take away all thought of envy whenever you meet with another who seems so much happier than yourself!That Bother has the sense to turn the smooth side of his coat outside-he wears the rough side of it inwards-a very sensiblething to do. Do not, therefore, begin to say, "Oh, but I am so much worse off than he is!" You do not know what he has toendure, "for every man shall bear his own burden." Let us end the whole matter by not envying others, or caring or wishingto be other people, but just saying, "What can I do to help somebody else? What I can do to help anybody? I will do it bythe Grace of God."
But what can some of you do in carrying burdens for other people? Why, even while I have been talking, you have said, "I donot care to do that. What have I to do with other people?" You are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquitywhile you talk like that! Any man who is selfish is an unsaved man, for the chief point in salvation is to save us from ourselves.As long as you live simply within your own ribs, you live in a dungeon. You will never come into the palace where the manymansions are-the liberty of our great Father's House-until you can say, "I love others more than I love myself. Above all,I love the great Burden-Bearer who took my burden of sin upon His shoulders and carried it up to the Cross and away from theCross and now, through love to Him, the love of self is gone and I will live to glorify His name forever and forever."
God bless you, for Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: GALATIANS 5:13-26; 6:1,2.
Galatians 5:13. For, brethren, you have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love, serveone another Do not turn your liberty into license. The Apostle, in this Epistle, had began urging the Christians of Galatiato stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free, and never to be, again, entangled with the yoke of legalbondage. He warned them against that error into which many have fallen. But you know that it is often our tendency, if weescape from one error, to rush into another. So the Apostle guards these Christian against that Antinomian spirit which teachesus that freedom from the law allows indulgence in sin-"Use not your liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love, serveone another."
14. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this-You shall love your neighbor as yourself Oh, if that "one word"were so engraved on our hearts as to influence all our lives, what blessed lives of love to God and love to men we shouldlead!
15. But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another When dogs and wolves bite oneanother, it is according to their nature, but it is indeed bad when sheep take to biting one another. If I must be bittenat all, let me be bitten by a dog rather than by a sheep. That is to say, the wounds inflicted by the godly are far more painfulto bear and last much longer than those caused by wicked men. Besides, we can say with the Psalmist, "It was not an enemythat reproached me; then I could have borne it." It is natural that the serpent's seed should nibble at our heel and seekto do us injury, but when the bite comes from a Brother-from a child of God-then it is peculiarly painful. Well might theApostle write, "If you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another." I have lived longenough to see churches absolutely destroyed, not by any external attacks, but by internal contention.
16. This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. If your life is guided by the Spiritof God-if you are spiritual men and women, and your actions are worked in the power of the Spirit, "you shall not fulfillthe lust of the flesh."
17. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. They will never agree-these two powers are alwayscontrary, one to the other. If you think that you can help God by getting angry, you make a great mistake. You cannot fightGod's battles with the devil's weapons. It is not possible that the power of the flesh should help the power of the Spirit!
17, 18. And these are contrary, the one to the other so that you cannot do the things that you would. But if you are led bythe Spirit, you are not under the law. The Law of God is always to you the blessed rule by which you judge your conduct, butit is not a law of condemnation to you-neither are you seeking salvation by it.
19-21. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these-Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry,witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envies, murders, drunkenness, revel-lings andsuch like. The list is always too long to be completed! We are obliged to sum up with a kind of et cetera-"and such like."
21. Of which I tell you beforehand, as I have also told'you in times past, that they which do such things shall not inheritthe Kingdom of God. A very solemn, searching, sweeping declaration! Let each man judge himself by this test! "The fruit ofthe Spirit" is equally manifest, as the Apostle goes on to say.
22, 23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance:against such there is no law. Neither human nor Divine! Good men make no law against these things, nor does God, for He approvesof them. What a wonderful cluster of the grapes of Eshcol we have here! "The fruit of the Spirit"-as if all this were butone, after all-many luscious berries forming one great cluster. Oh, that all these things may be in us and abound, that wemay be neither barren nor unfruitful!
24. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. It is not yet dead, but it is crucified.It hangs up on the cross, straining to break away from the iron hold, but it cannot, for it is doomed to die. Happy, indeed,shall that day be when it shall be wholly dead.
25, 26. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain-glory, provoking one another,envying one another. Do Christian people need to be talked to like this? Yes, they do, for the best of men are but men attheir best-and the godliest saint is liable to fall into the foulest sin unless the Grace of God prevents it. Oh, that wecould expel from the Church of Christ all vain-glorying, all provoking of one another and all envying of one another! Howoften, if one Christian Brother does a little more than his fellow workers, they begin to find fault with him! And if oneis blessed with greater success than others are, how frequently that success is disparaged and spoken of slightingly! Thisspirit of envy is, more or less, in all of us, and though, perhaps, we are not exhibiting it just now, it only needs a suitableopportunity for its display and it would be manifested. No man here has any idea of how bad he really is. You do not knowhow good the Grace of God can make you, nor how bad you are by nature, nor how bad you might become if that nature were leftto itself!
Galatians 6:1. Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a fault. If he travels so slowly that his faults catch up with him and knock him down."If a man is overtaken in a fault."
1. You who are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness. Set his bones for him if they have been broken. Puthim in his proper place again.
1. Considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. What would you wish others to do to you if you were in the position ofthis fallen one? The Apostle does not say, "Considering yourself lest you also be overtaken in a fault." No, but, "lest youalso be tempted"-as much as to say, "It only needs the temptation to come to you and you will yield to it."
2. Bear you one another's burdens, and fulfill the law of Christ.