When you are walking with someone, you usually try to keep in step with the person. I often will pass a group of walkers in the morning. The group of people is always walking in step. There might be two rows of people, but each one is keeping step so as to stay together, to walk together. Their speed. Their distance. Everything is in sync.
In the end of letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul writes to “keep in step with the Spirit.” In this letter, Paul again and again tells the people to get back in step. From the start of the letter, we can tell that the people have wandered. Paul simply addresses the people as “to the churches in Galatia” (1:2). There is no “holy people” or “saints” as with other letters. Verse 6 notes that the people were turning away from Christ. They were very much out of step.
Paul reminds us of the freedom we have in Christ. He also reminds us that this freedom we have should not be used “to indulge the flesh” (5:13). We need to keep in step with the Spirit. How can we do that? We need to be crucified with Christ. If we belong to Christ, we should have “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (v. 24). Let us keep in step with the Spirit. We can only do that with the Spirit.
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:25 [NIV]
When the Israelites defeated the Amalekites, there was something going on at the top of a hill. Moses was holding up his arms with his staff in hand, which caused the Israelites to have an advantage. Whenever his arms went down, the Israelites lost the advantage.
Because a person can only hold their arms up for so long, he ended up getting help. Aaron and Hur got a stone for Moses to sit on and they stood on each side of him to help hold up Moses’ hands. With the teamwork, the Israelites kept the advantage and won the battle.
We are meant to encourage each other, to help each other, to support each other. When there is a common goal among us, we should each be doing our part to see the victory. There are times when we are holding up our arms, and there are other times when we are one of those arm helpers. Everyone has a different role in the Kingdom, but each role is important. Let us do this together—we cannot do it any other way.
“Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset.” – Exodus 17:12 [NLT]
Today when I was walking my dog, he was charged by another dog. I was prepared for the situation; however, because the same dog owner allowed this to happen weeks ago. Last time, he had let his Golden Retriever run loose and the dog came and snapped at my dog. This time, he left his German Shepherd loose, and although there was no snapping, I was not a happy camper at the second episode of negligence.
In life we will meet a person who will do something that irritates us, that hurts us or something that is wrong. We will throw our hands in the air (or sometimes our fists) and demand change. We will get angry. We will say words (sometimes words that are not positive, life speaking words). We will be frustrated by these people who do not do what we want them to do; however, we cannot expect them to change and act as we wish. Nor can we expect someone to follow the commands of God.
I was mad at this man today. He has proven twice that he cannot handle his dogs. The first time I was upset. I was injured. My dog was frightened. It was not a good situation. This second time, though prepared for it, was just as bad. Even so, some people will not change. We can only control our reactions to a situation—not someone else. It is how you react to any given situation that says something about you. I know I do not always react as I should, but I also know that over the years, the Holy Spirit has helped me to react better to each given situation. Don’t let situations and circumstances control you. React with love.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14 [NLT]
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” – Philippians 4:8-9 [MSG]
When the temperatures rise, my dog Max likes to be in the air conditioning. Though he comes down in the morning for his breakfast, bone, and a walk, he quickly persuades me to let him back upstairs with the kids because of the air conditioning. He wants to be where it feels good. He wants to be where he is comfortable.
We are told to focus on what is good, pure, and lovely. We should seek those things out, focus on those things, and keep ourselves from turning elsewhere. Sometimes we find ourselves losing our focus because other things catch our eyes. Perhaps the things that are good do not look to help us feel comfortable. Sometimes we are to stay away from what appears comfortable, stay focused on what is pure, and patiently wait for the true comfort that only God can give us.
Comfortable does not always mean it is right. Something that feels good to us may not be good in the eyes of God. Continue to focus on Him. Today, remember these words from Paul and trust God’s promise of peace. Oh, the peace that only He can bring.
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
– Hebrews 10:24-25 [NLT]
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
– Hebrews 13:16 [ESV]