…use your freedom to serve one another in love. – Galatians 5:13b
Paul wraps up his letter to the Galatian church with admonitions about how to treat fellow believers and the necessity of bearing one another’s burdens. He says that loving our neighbors as ourselves fulfills the Mosaic Law, which is what Jesus did when he gave his life for us on the cross. He laid down his life for his friends, which the greatest love known.
I could go and try to write out a summary of how to apply this verse to our lives, but Paul has done such a great job in this letter that it would be foolish for me to try and improve upon his Spirit-inspired writing. Thus, I am going to pull selected verses from this passage that say it so eloquently and succinctly.
But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. (Gal. 5:15-26)
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. 5 For we are each responsible for our own conduct. (Gal. 6:3-5)
Don’t be misled — you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. (Gal. 6:7-10)
Father, I’ve been totally wrong. My marriage is a wreck, and I need your grace and help. I have not lived up to your Word, especially regarding this passage. It seems as though my wife were my enemy when I know she is not. We wrestle against each other even though we should not do so. I don’t know how to share in my wife’s burdens. It seems that all we do anymore is “provoke one another” and “always biting and devouring one another,” which leads me to believe that we are “destroying one another.” I repent of this sin and ask humbly that you guide in repairing and restoring our marriage. I know marriage is supposed to reflect the type of relationship we have with you because you used the marriage relationship as an illustration of your love for your people. Help my marriage to rise to that level. My wife deserves the best, but I have apparently not been giving it to her. Forgive me, Dad. I will ask her to forgive me also. In Jesus’ name, Amen.