Gather • Devotion 5

Danger of Biting
Patrick Bicknell

“But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Galatians 5:15

In Galatians 5:15, Paul uses a very strong description of believers who do not love others as themselves. He describes them as wild animals, those that bite and devour one another. In this verse, he is wrapping up a section talking about the liberty that we receive from Christ when we are justified through His finished work on the cross. He says things like “Christ has set us free” (verse 1) and “For you were called to freedom” (verse 13).

Paul, in this letter, is explaining over and over again how it is through Christ and Christ alone that we are justified, forgiven, and set free from this sin. Before he begins to transition into some more practical aspects of how we should live in this freedom, he gives this clear warning to those who bite and devour one another like wild animals. Paul says, “Watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” This is something that we Christians are notoriously good at. It is the hypocrisy that those outside of the church hate, and it is the behavior that devoted followers of Christ cannot stand to see in their fellow brothers and sisters. It is the attitude of selfishness. It is described as disregarding the well-being of others and not giving a second thought to how they are feeling, what they are going through, or the fact that what we do to them may hurt them. It is the lifestyle of wild animals. We act like wild animals because we get so consumed with ourselves that we take our eyes off of the person who has set us free, which is Christ.

I think this warning is so important for us to heed as we are going through Reach, Gather, and Grow as a church again. As we are refocusing on the mission of the church we need to take warnings like this and examine ourselves to see if we have fallen into this behavior. The clear way to do this in the context of Galatians 5:15 is to look at the two verses before it. There are three distinct things Paul points out. They are:

• Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.
• Serve one another.
• Love your neighbor as yourself.

Are you allowing your flesh to plant seeds of selfishness in your life? Do you want others to serve you rather than for you to serve others? Is the way you treat others reflective of how you would want to be treated? We need to take the time to examine ourselves, to see if our eyes are fixated on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and make sure that we are not behaving like wild animals and devouring one another. Instead, we should be loving our neighbors as ourselves and so fulfilling the law.

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