Be Not Deceived

07/02/2023 – Quarterly Exhortation

Our quarterly exhortations for 2023 are from Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia.  The thoughts for this year are:

Q1: Called Unto Liberty (Gal 5:13)                  

Q2: Walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:16)             

Q3: Be Not Deceived (Gal 6:7)                                   

Q4: Let Us Not Grow Weary in well doing (Gal 6:9)

If I were to choose a central thought behind Paul’s letter to the Galatians, it would be Called Unto Liberty.  The text leading up to and following Galatians 5:13 reveals Paul’s uncompromising defense of the freedom we have in Christ.  Yet as is said, freedom isn’t free - freedom does not go unchallenged.  We must continue to defend against fleshly and worldly influences that work to re-enslave us by continuing our walk in the spirit.

Among the closing thoughts expressed in the letter is this:

Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (Galatians 6:6-7)

These verses remind me of some old frontier era stories I have read.  After having received a promise to be paid by brethren, a preacher would travel many miles on horseback, deliver sermons, sometimes over multiple weeks, then go back home with only a fraction of what was promised, if anything at all.  Apparently the same miserly behavior existed in the early church.  Paul warns that such behavior will not go unnoticed by God.

For many years now our congregation has sent partial support to outside evangelists for the work they do in other places.  The congregation has also provided full support for local evangelism, and practiced double honor (1 Tim 5:7) for a long time.  Once or twice a year outside evangelists hold meetings or revivals for us, and we compensate them well for their efforts.  Our contributions cover all of these and other needs fairly comfortably.  This year we are on pace to do as well or better. Our contributions have been steady since at least 2018. We have been blessed.  Members of this congregation are to be commended!

Yet we are not to overly commend ourselves or “compare ourselves by ourselves”  (2 Cor 10:12).  We should never be fully content with our station here as a local congregation when there are so many who need to come to know the salvation of Jesus the Christ, and others among us who need encouragement or to re-dedicate themselves to  Him and the assembly of the church.

There are many things we can yet do.  As in the New Testament time, money is a useful tool.   Are we are using this tool to its greatest effect?  Are there needs that could further the Gospel and strengthen the church more effectively if we had more “tools”?  We should be constantly on the lookout for such opportunities, challenging ourselves as individuals and as a congregation to meet the needs according to our ability.  The early evangelists sought and prayed for such doors of opportunity (Acts 14:27, 1 Cor 16:9,  2 Cor 2:12, Col 4:3).  We must too.

But the greatest tool we have is our own individual time and influence among those we know and those we meet.  Our monetary contributions can become our corban if we neglect personal responsibilities (Mk 7:11).  We are all ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20).

As individuals and a congregation let us all be encouraged to sow and continue to sow generously, knowing that God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.