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Fort Gibson

September 3, 2013

Don't get burned while doing the Lord's work

Most of us have stubbed a toe, or bumped into a door, or a kitchen counter, or hit your head on something hard because you were not thinking about what you were doing.

While sitting at the breakfast table the other morning daydreaming about this and that, I noticed that the coffee in my cup had cooled off and reached a dangerously low level.  So I shuffled across the kitchen, poured myself a re-fill, sat back down, and continued to think about the day.  But only a split-second after I turned my cup up for another swallow, it occurred to me that my coffee was no longer cool, and that I had just taken a nice big swig of HOT coffee!  Yee-owe!!

My thoughts were quickly jolted out of auto-pilot as the shock and pain slowly wore off.  The ordeal reminded me of the Bible passage that warns about those “I wish I had a do over” moments.  No, not a “do over” to improve on my failed non-strategy of gulping coffee without evaluating its temperature first, but something similar that has to do with keeping our wits about us in spiritual war.

In Galatians 6, Paul reminds Christians to be careful when we support each other in our struggles.  Yes, within a Christian family we are to restore that brother or sister gently (see also 2 Cor. 2:5-8).  But Galatians 6:1 says, “Watch yourself, or you also may be tempted (v.1).”

You probably know of several instances in which well-meaning Christians have tried to spend time with a weaker Christian or non-Christian to win them over or make them feel included.  But in the end, the stronger Christian winds up falling off the path of righteousness and landing on the road to destruction.  The dark side entangled them by surprise because they thought they had everything under control, and didn't need to be cautious as they mingled too close to danger, forgetting that the coffee they were about to gulp was HOT, and would HURT.  They had put their spiritual thinking skills on auto-pilot and were not guarding their heart (Proverbs 4:23).  And then at some point their evil desires took over, leading to sin (James 1:14).  You've probably seen this result in failed relationships, and falling into sinful lifestyles.

Yes, Paul tells us to help others with their spiritual burdens or challenges (Gal. 6:2).  But he also says each of us should continue to carry our own load or responsibilities as Christians (Gal. 6:5).  In a letter to the Corinthian church, Paul said, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some (1 Cor. 9:22).”  If taken out of context, this passage could spell disaster for your spiritual life.  I once knew two young married ladies who left their husbands at home while the ladies went on a beach vacation, since once of them needed some girl time to deal with her struggling marriage.  Both ladies returned with new tattoos, new attitudes, and shortly thereafter divorced their husbands.

Paul was obviously not condoning scenarios like this, nor was he saying to take drugs, or become a gossiper, or look at pornography in order to save a friend. He simply meant he would meet a person where they are in life, try to understand them, and use their own beliefs and ways to show them the truth.  It can be a tricky line to walk without getting burned if you forget to “watch yourself”.  

May God bless your efforts to get out of your comfort zone, “Go into all the world (Matthew 28:19)”, and strive “to win as many as possible (1 Cor. 9:19).”  Have a great week!

Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or barrett@ftgcc.org

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