Yearly Rhythms: Relational Planning

Galatians 6:1, “1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

  • In verse 1 the Apostle Paul is writing to a region of churches in Galatia, modern day Turkey, and in verse 1 the Apostle Paul writes, “Brethren, you who are spiritual, (those who are in Christ, the body of Christ, the local church), restore one another in a spirit of gentleness.”
  • Do you know what that means? The word, “restore” in the original language, means to “equip by exposing rips and tears in our relationships with one another.”
  • It means relationships are going to be messy. I know we don’t want relationships to be messy. We want relationships to be fun, easy, natural, and just happen, but relationships are messy. Relationships aren’t like Saved By The Bell where you see a conflict, some jokes and everything is resolved in twenty minutes. It’s messy.

Therefore, we want to ask, “What does relational restoration look like practically?” and in the rest of our time we are going to see 3 points of application.

1.  We need wisdom on when to overlook an offense and when to speak up.

It is easy for me to stand up here and say, “Restore one another in a spirit of gentleness” but what does that look like practically? Are we to talk around like monks, “Dominous, Rominous, be restored?”

How do we know when we are supposed to speak up, or overlook an offense (1 Peter 4:8)? For me, this happens in every day relationships, in informal hangouts, and then something will be said, something will be done, and it is if the Holy Spirit rubs against me and says, “Is that off?” Have you had those moments where things just strike you as odd?

Do you know what I do in those moments? In those moments 99.9% of the time I don’t say anything to that person, I  err on extending grace, I assume the best in that person, and I don’t think about it again.

But, sometimes the Holy Spirit will bring that same pattern again, same offense, same person, and I will think, “That’s odd. Let me pray about it.”  The Holy Spirit isn’t revealing these things to us to hate one another, but to love one another enough to speak up and say something, and 99.9% of the time I will always lead off with a question and the assumption that I could be wrong. I might say, “Hey, I noticed this event, these words and it kind of came across as this attitude / behavior.” Is that what you saw?

Sometimes the conversation ends there, because I totally misread the events, which happens a lot, and sometimes the person says, “I don’t know what you are talking about,” and gets defensive and we can talk later about how to respond in those moments, but many times, when done in love, humility, and gentleness, many times the person says, “Yeah, I am stuck. I don’t know why that keeps happening. Will you help me?”

Look, I know that is supernatural, but can you just dream with me about what a difference those types of conversations would make in our church family, our friendships, our marriages, our parenting, and our city if that kind of restoration took place on a consistent basis. Lets look at our second application.

2.  We need wisdom to know people don’t change over night.

A farmer doesn’t walk into his field throw seeds, and the next day see a harvest, right? No, a farmer walks into his field and does what? First, a farmer tills the soil, then adds nutrients to the soil, then adds seeds the soil, then waters the soil, waters the soil, sees a little sapling come up and then has to fight off diseases and insects for months, so that after 9 months of sweat there is a harvest.

Remember, relationships are messy. Some of us are going to try to “restore one another in a spirit of gentleness” and it is going to go horrible, and you are going to think, “This doesn’t work.”

No, God’s Word works. The Holy Spirit is powerful, but spiritual maturity isn’t like a linear checklist: Patience-check. Kindness-check. Self-control-check. Spiritual maturity takes time.

We plant seeds, we water, we build up with God’s Word, and there is growth even when we don’t see the growth, but we need to understand spiritual maturity in our relationships with one another takes time.

3.  We need wisdom to keep going, and not give up on our relationships with one another.

How many of us have had moments of great spiritual faith in the Lord, but over time we tend to see our enthusiasm for the Lord decrease, and it is because the greatest enemy of enthusiasm is time!

Therefore, we need encouragement to keep going! Don’t stop bearing one another’s burdens. Don’t stop extending grace to one another. Don’t stop sowing seeds of the Spirit that will reap a harvest of eternal life.

This is an old story, but a good story about Florence Chadwick who intended to be the first woman to swim 21 miles from Catalina Island to the California cost.  The challenge of the swim is not the distance, but the bone-chilling water of the Pacific, and on the day of her swim there was a dense fog that rolled in, so that once she was in the water she couldn’t see the boats that were in front of her or behind her, and she ends up giving up when she was only a half-mile from the coast.

She had her mother there cheering her on, her coach cheering her on, but because of the fog she couldn’t see, she couldn’t see the end, she couldn’t see land, and she gave up.

A year later she tries again, and a year later a misty fog veiled the coastline again, and again she can’t see, but this time she finishes. She breaks the men’s record by 2 hours, and a reporter asked her, “How did you overcome the fog and distance this time?” Florence Chadwick said, “I pictured the shore in my mind, I pictured the end in my mind, and kept reminding myself that land was there.”

Jesus is going to return. There is a harvest that is coming.  Picture the end in your mind. Picture the day when all things will be made new, and remind yourself, “Heaven is coming!”

By grace through faith, we can start living today what it will be like in eternity. It starts with taking personal ownership over your own spiritual life, and then we build out toward our immediate family, and then the next layer is our church family, and then extended family, neighbors, co-workers, strangers, etc.