November 25 (Daily reading: Galatians 4-6) This commentary is adapted from my book, “We Love Because God First Loved Us,” pages 81-82, 142-143. Paul gave some relationship principles in Galatians 5. “Through love serve one another” (v. 13b). Love is the motivation for our service. Serving is love in action on behalf of someone who is in need. It is not based on merit, but on need. This principle speaks of service in the context of freedom. “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (v. 13). Christians are free from envy and resentment of another person’s status, giving us joy in offering them our service. We are free from the stereotypes that make people uncomfortable being called a servant. We are free from worry over what others may think. We are free to love, and we love through serving.
Paul gave another principle which describes what could happen if we use our freedom according to the flesh: “But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another” (v. 15). Using words that describe animal behavior, Paul showed a downward spiral. It begins with biting, which is painful but not deadly. But it leads to the point of being devoured and consumed. When people in the church judge, lie, envy, speak against one another and complain—love, peace, fellowship, ministry and reciprocal relationships will be destroyed. But Paul quickly gave the solution: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (v. 16). When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will not be guilty of destroying one another. We will live instead according to the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (vv. 22-23).
– Al Gary