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Freed to Love

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
November 11, 2021 9:00 am

Freed to Love

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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November 11, 2021 9:00 am

As believers, our love for each other and for the world ought to set us apart from any other group. So what does Christian love actually look like, and how do we start to live it out?

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. You know what Christ did when He saved you. You know how far He reached. It was a burden that you had brought on yourself. So why wouldn't you reach out to somebody even when they brought on the burden on themselves? Because when you do that, then you're going to start, you're going to start fulfilling the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? The law of Christ is that you do unto others as Jesus has done unto you.

And that means voluntarily entering into their burdens, just like Jesus entered into yours. Hey, thanks for joining us here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. You know, Jesus said that the world would know we are His disciples by our—can you finish the sentence? Inspire love. As believers, our love for each other and for the world around us ought to set us apart from any other group.

So then we have to ask ourselves, what does Christian love actually look like and how do we start to live it out? Pastor J.D. Greer answers those questions today as he continues our series called Freedom and the In-Between.

If you missed any of the previous messages, you can catch up right now online at For right now, let's get started with a message he titled Freed to Love. We are almost here at the end of our series on the book of Galatians.

And so we come now to Galatians chapter six, which are Paul's final thoughts that he is going to give to the Galatians. At the beginning of this series, I explained to you that every pastor has a speaking style and that usually kind of determines we open our sermons the same way. And a lot of times we'll have a unique way that we try to end the sermons. I know some pastors that seem to like to end their sermons by revving up the audience and trying to get them to an applause line, kind of a drop the mic moment. When I was going to youth camp as a student, it seemed like the youth speakers there always like to tell an emotional story at the end that got everybody crying so we'd all come forward and promise to be missionaries. There was a worship leader I worked with one time at a college conference that I did that he just loved to end every worship set by just coming to a point where he kind of lost control and he'd jump around and he goes up on his toes playing the last part of the song and he holds his guitar up and then he just falls backwards. And it was kind of like, well, not a little awkward. It was a lot awkward because all the other instrumentalists are kind of looking at him and the guy at the conference looks at me and he goes, it was after about 10 seconds, he said, bro, I don't know what to tell you. You're up next on the schedule.

So this one's on you. So I walk up and I literally have to like step over him. I can see he's fine, but I have to step over him and go start the message.

And then about 10 minutes in the message, he gets up and picks up his guitar and we go on. Well, Paul has his own particular type of preaching style. And when Paul gets to the end of one of his sermons, which that's the way you should read a letter is like one long sermon that Paul is preaching. Paul's habit at the end of the sermon is to rattle off a litany of really practical instructions. And at first, these instructions seem like a bunch of random standalone proverbs as if you're saying, oh yeah, I remember this and oh yeah, you should do that.

But they're not really random at all. These things are the practical outworkings of the gospel that he's explained now for five chapters. You see, here's the thing to remember about Paul. Anytime you read anything written by Paul, you keep this in mind for Paul imperatives always flow out of indicative. And you're like, imperative, what are you talking about? Indicatives are declarative statements about what God has done.

Imperatives are commands about what you should do. So for Paul, the commands of what you should do come out of a response to what God has done. So that's how you always should see Paul. Paul is going to say, here's what God has done.

Here's the indicative. Now here is what you should do in response. That's why Paul often signals that transition by the word therefore. Therefore, in light of all that I just said to you about the gospel, here's how you should live in response. And that's why every good Bible teacher will tell you that whenever you see the word therefore in Paul's letters, you should always look and see what it's there for.

Exactly right. You're looking backwards because what is the indicative that is grounding the imperative? Because before you undertake the imperative, you got to make sure you got a really good hold on the indicative. Otherwise, you're going to turn that list of imperatives to a list of moral do's and don'ts. And that will lead you to something that Paul calls legalism, or we call legalism, which is just where you're trying to obey a bunch of commands.

And that is the opposite of what Paul is wanting you to do. The imperatives of the Christian life grow as a natural response to the indicative, the statements about what God has done. Paul is urging us now in chapter six to respond to the gospel that he has explained now for five chapters. We're going to start our reading of chapter six at the end of chapter five though, because the last two verses of chapter five, in my opinion, are where he starts the instructions of chapter six.

He starts it like this. If we live by the spirit, let us also keep in step with the spirit. In other words, the spirit has created a new reality for us in the gospel. And that reality comes with it, the power of a new creation and the power of resurrection. But in order for you to access that power, you got to walk in a way that is consistent with what the spirit is doing.

That's the only way you'll have access to the power. So therefore he says, let us not become conceited. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. That word conceited there is a very important word. It is one of the few places in our Bible that we unfortunately don't have the right English word that translates the Greek word.

We just don't have one. The closest we get is if you have the old King James version of the Bible, that's what I grew up on. And there's a lot of words in it. I did not understand, but in this place, KJV actually gets it exactly right.

But in order to do that, they had to make up an English word. And the word they use is vainglory. Vainglory is what the word in Greek literally means is empty of glory. If you become a person who is empty of glory, then you are going to become a person who provokes and envies one another. Remember what Paul has explained to us? You and I were created for the glory of God. We were created to be complete in God. We were created so that God's love and acceptance was our glory.

Literally every part of you, whether you're a Christian or not, every part of you, just because of the way you're created, cries out for you to hear from God, the Father, well done, good and faithful servant. Well, when you and I sinned, we were stripped of the love and the acceptance of God. And when we were stripped of that love and acceptance, that glory, we felt naked and ashamed. So we immediately turn to begin to look to replace that glory with something else. It's like we walk around with this big old glory hole in our hearts, big glory vacuum. And we're always looking for something to replace what we lost in God. And one of the main ways that we do that, where we try to replace that glory is we do it by comparing ourselves to one another.

We try to show that we are better than other people in some way, and that becomes our glory. And that manifests itself in two different ways in this verse. The first way here is provoking one another. Provoking is when you have a superiority complex toward others and you just feel like you are better than them for some reason. Maybe you are smarter or you are prettier or you are richer or you are more moral, or I guess that's how you would say that, moraler.

You're more talented. You've got a better family, but there's something that makes you better. And so you look down on them and you provoke them.

Enving is the opposite side of the coin. When you envy others, it's because you have an inferiority complex, because when you compare yourself to others, you don't match up. And so you resent that. What the provoking and the envying, what the superiority complex and the inferiority complex have in common is that you enter into relationships from a sense of emptiness. You need glory from other people. Well, the gospel does three things, Paul says, that transforms your relationships. The first thing it does is it humbles you. It teaches you that there really is nothing about you that makes you better than somebody else. Everything you have is a gift of grace. Secondly, it completes you.

You don't need glory or distinction from other people because you have the approval of the heavenly father. And then it redirects you rather than being a person who is focused on using others to meet your needs. You become a complete person who offers yourself to meet the needs of others.

You see, before the gospel, you approach every relationship from, let's call it a market standpoint. How can this relationship benefit me? How can this person help me fulfill my goals or the goals of my family? With every person you meet, you got a little plus and minus chart in your head and you're asking yourself, is this person going to add more to me than they're going to take away?

What can they do for me and my family? That's how you evaluate relationships. All right, watch how those things show up in this litany of instructions. If you've been experienced with the gospel, you'll be humbled, you'll be complete, and you'll be redirected. Watch them show up in these next few verses here as we go through this.

Brothers and sisters, if somebody is overtaken in a wrongdoing, what we have here is somebody who's fallen into sin, right, really messed themselves up. You who are spiritual, now who's he talking about? Does it mean the Christians who walk around with a sanctified look on their face?

No. Spiritual just means you have the spirit. That's all he means there. So it's any Christian. You have the spirit.

Restore, that's the Greek word katartizo, which means put a broken bone back in place. Restore such a person with a gentle or humble, proud-tossed spirit, watching out for yourselves because you're made out of the same stuff they are and you don't want to also be tempted as you get into this. How does a gospel saturated person respond to somebody in sin?

Paul's answer? They approach them with empathy and compassion, knowing that they're made out of the same stuff that that person is, and the fact that they haven't been overcome by this particular temptation is not because they're better than them. It's, if anything, it's because they've been spared the set of circumstances that that person was in.

Had you grown up like them or you've been put through the same temptations, you probably would have made the same dumb decisions that they made. You see, the gospel teaches you that any righteousness that you have is a gift. Thus, when I'm around somebody who has fallen, I approach them humbly because I, too, am a wretched, dark-hearted sinner, just like them.

Any righteousness I have is a gift. That's what the gospel teaches me about myself, and it changes the attitude that I have to somebody whose life is messed up. A person who doesn't know the gospel assumes that their righteousness is something that they have achieved, so they feel conceited and proud.

They have a glory from that, and so they back away from that other person, and they don't get involved in the life of somebody who's messed up because they think, why would I encumber myself with your mess? I mean, the reason I'm not in a mess is because I made good decisions, and so if I'm not in a mess because I made good decisions, I'm not going to bring your mess into my life because I spent my whole life trying to get out of mess, which leads me to the next verse, verse two. Paul says, carry one another's burdens, and this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Now, in context, the burden that he's talking about here is the burden that comes to somebody because of their own sinful, dumb choices, and Paul says, if you get the gospel, you will voluntarily enter into the burdens of others, burdens that they brought onto themselves by their own sinfulness. You see, which addresses one of the primary reasons Christians use or excuses we use for not getting involved with other people who are suffering and in need. Jonathan Edwards, 300 years ago, in a little book called The Duty of Christian Charity, identified the primary reasons that Christians excuse themselves from getting involved in the needs of others. The number one reason, he said, the number one reason still relevant today is he says, Christians will say, nope, I don't want to help somebody in need, that kind of need, because they brought that on themselves. They made a dumb decision, they brought that on themselves, so I feel no compulsion to go help them. Jonathan Edwards' response was, do you not know the gospel at all?

Do you realize the misery that Christ brought you out of, a misery that you had brought on yourselves in entirety? I mean, you know the golden rule, right? The golden rule is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Here, Paul is upgrading that to the platinum rule, right? He didn't call it platinum rule, but I'm gonna call it that. Platinum rule is do unto others as Christ has done unto you. Do you know what Christ did when he saved you?

You know how far he reached. It was a burden that you had brought on yourself. So why wouldn't you reach out to somebody even when they brought on the burden on themselves? Because when you do that, then you're gonna start fulfilling the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? The law of Christ is that you do unto others as Jesus has done unto you, and that means voluntarily entering into their burdens, just like Jesus entered into yours.

So let me just ask you a little diagnostic question right now, okay? I want you to think about the burdens in your life that you are carrying right now, and I want you to ask yourself how many of those burdens come from carrying the burden of somebody else? How much of the burden and the weight that you feel under this morning, how much of it comes from somebody else's burden that you have voluntarily entered into and shared? Isn't that what Paul is telling us to do, carry each other's burdens?

I mean, think about the metaphor on this table. If I were carrying this table and you were gonna help me, how much does this table weigh? Like what, 350 pounds? And so if we were gonna carry it together, what I would do is I would turn it on its side so that now the weight would be distributed so that I would carry 175 and you would carry 175.

That's how we would do that. And some of the weight that I was carrying would now rest upon you. In other words, in order to help me, some of that burden has to fall on you. The reason I take pains to point this out is most of us wanna give to others without it really costing us. We wanna give to others without feeling the burden, but that is not what people who have experienced the gospel should be like. Jonathan Edwards said the second reason, the second excuse Christians give for why they don't help others in need is they say, I don't really have any excess and I really couldn't give to that person in need without experiencing hardship myself. Edward says, isn't that exactly what Paul is telling us to do in Galatians 6, 2 is to experience hardship because of how much we give, to give to a point that some of the burden of those in need actually falls on us. Isn't that what it means to share the burden?

That's why C.S. Lewis said the only safe rule in giving, if you want a rule, the rule is not 10%. If you want a safe rule in giving, it's to give more than you feel like you can spare, because only then will you be sharing the burden that somebody else is feeling, and only then are you fulfilling the law of Christ. A conceited person who has forgotten the gospel thinks, oh, I've pulled myself up by my bootstraps, you ought to do the same. In fact, I've spent my life trying to get myself to a place where I have no burdens. I've earned this position of privilege and I'm certainly not going to encumber myself with the burdens that you have brought on yourself. They're conceited, unaware of the great need that they had when Christ saved them. When you know Jesus, you voluntarily begin to bear the burdens of others.

Now, there are, of course, other ways to apply this principle beyond the financial. You can do it with people emotionally, hurting when they hurt, making their concerns matters of personal prayer, where I know the difference when somebody has given me a perfunctory, I'll pray for you, brother. And when they actually are taking some of this burden and they're following up with me about it and they're praying for it and treating it like it's their own burden, it means trying to shoulder the load with people around you in really practical ways. Simple as sometimes taking the meals when they're going through a difficult time or watching over their kids when they need that.

Or how about this one? Helping people move. I hate moving. Everybody hates moving. I don't even like helping other people move. I mean, no offense, but that is a time that we literally bear one another's burdens. If you're in a Christian community, you should expect and not resent when people ask you to help them move.

And by the way, if you have a truck, I would advise you to conceal that fact. Otherwise, everybody in the church and random strangers you meet in the mall are going to ask you to help them move. The point is you voluntarily begin to share burdens around you. Let me apply this principle in one other way that I think is very timely for us. And if I could, if you will indulge me to speak as a white guy, to those of you who are listening to me who also are white, I believe this is one of the major things that we need to do in situations of racial tension. And that is to make every effort to bear the burdens that are borne by some of our brothers and sisters of color, burdens we may never have had to experience personally. We've often talked about here at this church, it is easy for any of us not to think about things that don't affect us directly. But if we are gospel people, we will be aware of the pain that others are going through and aware of the privileges that we experience that others don't have access to. And we will use any position of privilege or strength that we enjoy in order to serve and empower others. We will spend time listening and trying to see and understand things from their perspective, because in that the first part of bearing a burden is to listen. Listening is the first stage in sharing or bearing a burden. So we ought to realize that when it comes to things like, you know, controversial things like kneeling for the flag, for example, or even protesting or rioting after a shooting, that others often feel like they do because of experiences that they have had.

And to be frank, had you or I grown up in their situation, we'd probably feel the same way. That is not saying that they are all right and you were all wrong. It's just saying that you should realize that your perspective on those things is largely an opinion that has been formed out of your own experiences. And that's all that it is, an opinion. We should listen to others in our community, trying as much as we can to see it from their perspective and as much as we can, sharing the burdens that they live with as if they were our own.

In fact, if you're writing stuff down, write this down. We are called to share the burdens our brothers and sisters live with as if they were our own. For the majority culture, this is the beginning of progress and a lot of this racial strife. I know that is not all that needs to be said on this. I get that, but I know that it is something that we can do. It is something that Galatians is telling us to do. By the way, maybe the first place this will show up is on your Facebook wall. Can I suggest a verse that you should probably put at the top of your computer? Proverbs 18, two, a fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. For many of you, this summarizes your entire approach to Facebook right here. I'm not looking to understand. I'm just looking to show the world how smart I am because of what I feel in this particular moment. Spare us that and spend more time trying to understand than simply to tell everybody how smart you are.

Make this your screen saver or something because there's so much division that gets caused by people not understanding, but just trying to vent whatever they're feeling in a particular moment. I'm not saying you never post your opinion. I'm just saying that for every one comment you make telling yours, you're asking two questions that help you understand somebody else's. All right, well, Paul keeps developing this point. Look at this, verse three. For anybody considers himself to be something when he's nothing, he deceives himself. Now, what's he talking about?

He's still going after this issue of being conceited. He's like, do you really feel like you're something? Do you not know the gospel at all? Do you remember who you were when God saved you? You were dead in trespasses and sin, not mostly dead or nearly dead or really, really sick. You were dead, dead. You were children of wrath.

You weren't a not so bad center or a center who had a good heart or center with a lot of potential. God did not look at you and say, oh, there's still some good in that one. I think I can save him. That's Star Wars. That's not the gospel. There's only one kind of center according to the gospel, and that is wretched, darkhearted, spiritually dead centers. In fact, you were so bad that Jesus had to die to save you.

By the way, make sure you get that. Not other people were so bad that Jesus had to die for them. He didn't come to earth and say, you know what? There are some people that are so bad, I can only save them if I die for them.

You, I just had to spray my ankle for you, but somebody else, I had to die for them. No, you were so, just you by yourself was so bad that the son of God had to spill his precious blood to redeem your soul from the hell that you deserved. And if you forget that, then you'll think you're something when you're actually a big old nothing. And then you're going to be self-deceived. And when you're self-deceived, you'll become conceited and then you'll become ungenerous toward others. And you'll relate to them wrongly when they go through a time of need or when they're under a burden that's brought on by their simpleness. Verse four, he keeps going, let each person examine his own work.

And then he can take pride in himself alone and not compare himself with somebody else for each person will have to carry his own load. You're like, what? I mean, doesn't it sound like he just contradicted everything he just said? Now, how many of you noticed, how many of you noticed that contradiction when you were reading it earlier?

I mean, be honest. How many of you just skimmed right over it? Cause you're not really reading it and paying attention. You're just reading it.

See, this is what I'm talking about. You got to see this kind of stuff and be like, I feel like he just contradicted himself. It looks like that on the surface, but not when you understand the context, the context, listen, he's still going after this idea of being conceited. And he is saying it is foolish of you to feel proud that you're not struggling with something when somebody else is because each of us have been given a different size load to carry. And the fact that somebody else is struggling with something that you're not struggling with is not because you were just inherently awesomer than they are. It's because the situation of their life and the circumstances that they were in were different. It was a different load.

And you know what? Had you been under the same load, you probably would have struggled the same way that they did because all the righteousness that you have is a gift from God anyway. And had you been given the same load that person was given, then you probably would struggle with it too. The gospel reshapes how we approach broken and needy people. We should approach people with humility and compassion, eager to share each other's burdens because that's what Jesus did for us. You're listening to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, J.D.

Greer. If you've missed any of the previous messages in our teaching series through the book of Galatians, you can find them all online at J.D., today we're introducing a brand new and maybe a little different kind of study to our listeners. What can you tell us about it?

Yeah, it is a little different, Molly. This is sort of a here and now book that's got a study guide about joining God in what He's doing right now with us. You know, one of the most profound experiences I had was years ago when I was in college, which was a couple years ago, I think.

A couple years ago, Tom's 10. It was Henry Blackaby's experience in God. And the basic idea was you find what God is doing and you join Him in it. Well, that's a great study, but it's a principle that we've tried to put in, so what we teach and preach.

And I think that's certainly true of what we've got for you this month. You know, the Summit Church, our mission statement is that we want to follow the Holy Spirit and then to create a movement of disciples making disciples. And sometimes people brush over that following the Holy Spirit part because you're just like, oh, well, Christianity is I'm going out to do a bunch of things for God. I can tell you, that is an exhausting way to live. You know, sometimes people listen to us and they're like, well, I could never do what you do, Molly, in addressing that.

I can never do what you do, JD, in teaching. But there is a disciple making capacity that God calls each of us to. And this will show you how you can have a role in it and how you can live that out. Reach disciples sin. That's what God has called the earliest disciples to do. It's what he's called you and I to do. And that's what this study is all about.

It's about God's movement and you being, you perceiving it, moving along with him. Every penny you give goes to covering the cost of producing and distributing these messages so that more people can dive into the gospel with us. Join that mission when you give today and remember to ask for your copy of our newest resource titled, Be the Movement. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or give and request the study book online at I'm Molly Vidovich and I'm so glad to have you with us. And be sure to set aside a few minutes to join us tomorrow as we're continuing the message titled, Freed to Love. Friday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-23 17:54:02 / 2023-07-23 18:05:31 / 11

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