13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (Galatians 5:13-15).
In this passage Paul is making a profound statement: freedom comes with great responsibility! The freedom that we have received in Christ remains only as long as we choose to not place ourselves under the slavery or yoke of sin (Galatians 5:1). Though we have the right to do anything we choose, freedom for Paul, has its limits rooted in doing what is right in God’s sight (1 Corinthians 6:12). Even when one becomes a new creation in Christ the desires of the sinful nature still exist and must therefore be taken captive to a regenerate will. Choosing to love this world or anything in it results in bondage to the carnal sins of one’s own heart. Paradoxically, we who are no longer under the law whose practical effect was to exacerbate our own rebelliousness (Romans 7:7-13), are the very ones who being led by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:18) are enabled to accomplish its fulfillment: to love God and one another.
Christian liberty then is not to be seen as a license to sin but as freedom to serve one another in love! As a body of Christ we are all baptized unto one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-14) with the responsibility of using our spiritual gifts to build each other up in the faith (1 Thessalonians 5:11). While we know this is our calling too often we choose to bite rather than love our brothers and sisters in Christ. Trying to “one up” each other inside the body of Christ happens in a lot of today’s churches. Going to war against another often leads to the destruction of both parties because it breaks one of God’s most sacred commands: love one another. Bitterness can so easily creep into a person’s soul making serving with a loving heart or even trusting other people nearly impossible!
What then is Paul’s solution to the biting, devouring, and destroying people that is all too common in today’s churches? The answer is: with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22) consider others better than yourself (Philippians 2:3). When faced with someone who bites you the response should be one of love, not hate. We will be known as Christians because we have learned to love all people (John 13:35), especially our enemies (Luke 6:27-36). We express our love to our enemies not by biting them but by providing for their needs (Proverbs 25:20). If Jesus Christ can hang on a cross for you and me when we were His enemies, then surely we as His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and royal priests (1 Peter 2:9) can see the image of God in all people and love them! You may not think your enemy is worth your love or time but God certainly does!
One can always think of numerous reasons to dislike an enemy but one needs only a single reason to love them: Christ died for them (John 3:16)! Easter is fast approaching and I think we should prepare our hearts to meet our Saviour. This means that if anyone has bitterness or anger in their hearts towards another they should leave their gift of love for Christ at the communion table to go and be reconciled with their enemies (Matthew 5:23-24). This will mean of course that you will probably have to offer mercy unto your enemies (Matthew 9:13). I have always given my very best to love all people, including my enemies. This Easter I will be praying for anyone who has a grudge against me and invite you do to the same because they are worth it! O how I love everyone that I meet!