It’s one of those things that preachers say.  It is kind of like, “After the but comes the truth,” or “I’m almost finished.” 

I’m pretty sure if you’ve been in church for any length of time that you’ve heard this particular phrase, perhaps you’ve even said it yourself from time to time, and it is our theme for the next couple of months.

You’ve probably guessed it from the bulletin: the banner over the door and the graphic on the screen.  “Whenever you see a therefore in the bible, you need to go back and see what it’s there for.”

Now I first learned that when I was at Bible College, way back in the last century, and I’m sure at some point you’ve heard me say it from the platform.

Now, for you grammar nerds out there, “Therefore” is a subordinating conjunction. And while I’m sure most of you know that, for the couple of people who don’t, a subordinating conjunction is a word or phrase that links a dependent clause to an independent clause.

Now, if you are like me, that means absolutely nothing to you.

One website I checked out said that Independent and dependent clauses could be likened to Batman and Robin. The dependent, or subordinate, clause would be Robin, Batman’s assistant.

The independent main clause would be Batman, his superhero boss.  Batman can exist without Robin, Robin can’t exist without Batman.  And that makes perfect sense. That’s the reason why there have been 13 Batman movies, going back to 1943 and not even one Robin movie. 

Are you with me yet?  Let’s try in context.

Batman insists that everyone who rides in the Batmobile wears a seat belt. Robin refused to wear his seat belt. Therefore, Batman won’t let Robin ride in the Batmobile.

“Therefore, Batman won’t let Robin ride in the Batmobile” is the dependent clause.  It only makes sense if we go back to find out why Batman won’t let Robin ride in the Batmobile. 

It’s not because Batman is a selfish jerk. It’s because Robin won’t wear his seat belt, and Batman insists that everyone who rides in the Batmobile must wear a seat belt.

Too often, we find a verse we like in the Bible and latch on to it, and if it has a “therefore,” instead of going back and investigating, we ignore it, which is sloppy and lazy bible study.

Therefore, during the next eight weeks, the preaching team will be looking at some of those scriptures.  Did you see what I did?

And we have all kinds of opportunities. The word, therefore, is used 171 times in the New Living Translation and 446 times in the New International Version. And if there isn’t enough, it is used, 866 times in the Revised Standard Version and a whopping 1355 times in the New King James Version.

The scripture that was read for us this morning ended with these words: Galatians 6:10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

This could have been a complete sentence, even without the word “therefore,” and the reality is that the way it is read, most of the time. 

Galatians 6:10 Therefore, Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

And that makes complete sense and would fit on a poster, a coffee mug, or a greeting card. 

However, by the way, that is another subordinating conjunction.  However, verse 10 does not exist in isolation.

In isolation, it simply means that we should do good things for people, especially other Christ followers.

That would be a great verse for last week’s Love Atlantic activities. And that’s not a bad thing to aspire to. But let’s go back and see what the therefore is actually there for,

We could go back just one verse, and we read this, Galatians 6:9 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.

And that is a great verse, and I’ve preached a whole series of messages based on this one verse focusing on the thought of not giving up. And it makes sense if we add it to verse 10, Galatians 6:9-10 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. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

But there is more to verse 10 than simply verse 9.  Therefore, let’s look at what leads us to verse 10.

Earle L. Wilson, was the longest-serving General Superintendent in the history of The Wesleyan Church, and in his commentary on this verse he wrote,  “The church is a family, not a civic or social club. As a family we are knit together supernaturally by the Holy Spirit in common fellowship of love.”

This portion of scripture is about how we deal with one another in love and how we do good to other members of the family.

If we go back to the beginning of chapter six, we read in Galatians 6:1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.

Doing Good is about Correcting

This one is tough because most of us do not like to be corrected, and it’s even tougher today because of the general attitude of tolerance.

Which is only tolerance if you agree with the person who is talking about being tolerant.  If you disagree, they have no interest in being tolerant of your views. They just insist that you be tolerant of theirs, which is not tolerance.

The Old Testament book of Judges was written during a dark period in the history of Israel, about 2600 years ago.  And that book is summed up with a phrase in the last verse of the last chapter that sounds very familiar for us today.  We read in Judges 21:25 . . . all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

And so, today’s society has determined that nobody has the right to tell anyone else what is right or wrong.

But that’s silly. We are constantly being told what we can do and what we can’t do.

When you leave the service today, if you go over to the Esso and gas up, you will be expected to pay.  When you drive home, you will be expected to drive the speed limit. 

Tomorrow, if you have school-aged children, you will be expected to send them to school.  When you get paid this week, you will be expected to pay the appropriate deductions.

So, we can’t simply ignore the rules set down by society without paying the consequences.  And we are all expected to know what those rules are—simply saying, I didn’t know, is very seldom a valid excuse. 

In the same way, God has put rules in place for his children that he expects us to obey and follow.  Some of those rules are for society as a whole and were put in place to keep society from disintegrating.  Don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t kill, don’t cheat on your spouse.

Others are put in place for those who claim to follow Jesus. They help us to be more like him and they help us draw closer to him.  And there is an expectation for us as Christ followers, that we will obey those commands.  Jesus tells us in John 14:15 “If you love me, obey my commandments.”

Paul wrote to the church in the city of Corinth, giving them this direction: 1 Corinthians 5:12 It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.

So, in Galatians, we are told., Galatians 6:1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.

The church wasn’t told to ignore the sin or to sweep it under that carpet. Instead, they were told to confront the person and correct them. 

Those in the know tell us that the word that Paul used for sin in this passage literally meant to slip.  William Barclay writes in the Daily Study Bible, “The word Paul uses (paraptoma) does not mean a deliberate sin; but a slip as might come to a man on an icy road or a dangerous path.”

Have you ever slipped in your spiritual walk?  Said something or done something which you had no intention of doing, but you blew it. 

I received this text message from my best friend last Saturday.  Sooooo…day off. I get up and grab one of my t-shirts with a funny saying on it out of the dresser and throw it on. After breakfast, Jan and I go for our walk. We take the short route, which winds behind the 8th Hussars rink and comes out at the bandstand. As we come around the corner, I see a sea of people around the bandstand, most all dressed in orange. Obviously, an “Every Child Matters” rally. As we are making our way through, I notice several people giving me dirty looks. Only after we get clear and back on the sidewalk do I realize the funny saying on my shirt reads, “Breaking News: Nobody Cares.”

I offered not to use his name, and he responded by saying, “Feel free to use my name. Stupid should always have a name!”

Reg’s intent wasn’t to offend the folks who were at the “Every Child Matters Rally,” but I’m sure he did.  But not intentionally.

And you know the difference. There are times that you plot and plan your sin out.  You know what you are going to do and how you are going to do it.  You know it’s wrong, but you don’t care.  You are going to do it anyway and ask for forgiveness afterward. 

Luther Ingram’s song “If Loving You Is Wrong” is about a married man justifying his extramarital affair, and he sings, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right”

But that isn’t what Paul was talking about when he wrote this passage. 

And it’s not just about confronting the person who sins. Let’s go back to the scripture, Galatians 6:1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.

When he was explaining this verse, Martin Luther wrote, “Therefore, if you see any brother cast down and afflicted by occasion of sin which he hath committed. Run unto him, and reaching out your hand, raise him up again, comfort him with sweet words, and embrace him with motherly arms.”

And truthfully, sometimes it’s easier to do the correcting part than the gently and humbly helping part, but they have to go hand in hand. 

This isn’t the only time this concept is mentioned, Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favourable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

And that leads us to the second thing Paul reminds his readers to do.

Galatians 6:2–3 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.

Doing Good is about Carrying.

2000 years ago, in an occupied country, carrying a burden was usually something that was involuntary and done under duress.  At any point, you could be summoned by a soldier to carry their load. 

Jesus spoke about that very situation in the sermon on the Mount when he told people, Matthew 5:41 Jesus said, If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.”

You might remember in Luke’s gospel in the story of the crucifixion that the soldiers pulled Simon of Cyrene out of the crowd and forced him to carry Jesus’ cross.

But the burden that Paul was talking about here was different. 

To quote Earle Wilson again, “The reality of the Christian life is that all believers have burdens. Our burdens are not the same. To some, the burden may be a personal affliction, to others some infirmity, and to others a family crisis, but no Christian is exempt from having burdens.”

I know some of the burdens that you are carrying.  That’s a burden in itself sometimes as I get up to preach and know what some of you are going through and the burdens you are carrying.

But, I certainly don’t know all the burdens you are carrying, but I’m pretty sure each of you is carrying a burden of some kind.  And in most if not all cases, the burden would be easier if you had help.

2600 years ago Solomon wrote these words, Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.  Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?  A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

And helping someone with their burdens doesn’t mean typing, my thoughts and prayers are with you, in the comment line.  Not that prayers aren’t important, but how often do you actually stop and pray for the person when you’ve said or typed that.

Jesus’ brother James wrote to the early church in James 2:15–16 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing,  and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

Sometimes, bearing those burdens is something practical.  Since our beginning, we have provided meals for new moms after the birth of the babies.  You can actually sign up to help with that on the Ministry form. 

I’ve mentioned before that this year, we’ve had a number of funerals, and for some of those, we’ve been able to step in and help the family with a reception, either by providing food or in some cases, helping them with the setup and serving, either way, that is helping carry a burden.   

For those who take the time to visit folks who are in the hospital, you are helping carry a burden.  And sometimes, it’s just being there, listening, giving a hug or holding a hand. 

David writes in Psalm 55:22 Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

And I think of the story about the little boy who came into his parent’s room one night because he was afraid of the dark, and his mother told him, “You go back to bed, God will be with you.”  And the little boy said, “But sometimes I need God with skin on him.”

Maybe you can be God with skin for someone.

I do know this: God never intended for us to carry our burdens alone. Christianity was never meant to be a solitary religion, and isolation isn’t healthy either in worship or in burden-bearing.

Let’s keep going,   Galatians 6:6 Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them.

Doing Good is about . . .

Well, that could be seen as a little self-serving. Let’s just keep going.

Galatians 6:5 & 7–8 For we are each responsible for our own conduct . . . Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.  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.

Doing Good is Understanding the Consequences.

There are consequences to our actions, if you fill your car at Esso and drive away, you’ll be arrested.  If you get caught speeding you will be ticketed,

This is why it’s so important to correct other believers when they stumble and help them to get back on the path because there are consequences to our sinful behaviour.

I read an article recently about the family of Philip Paxson suing Google over his death.

Late one night in September 2022, Paxton was returning home from his daughter’s 9th birthday party when Google Maps directed him to go over an unmarked and unbarricaded bridge that had collapsed years before. 

Even though Google had been warned that their app was directing people over the bridge, it was never corrected.  I think most would agree that Google has to bear some of the responsibility for the accident.  Paxton trusted his map app to get him home safely.

The church has a responsibility to guide people to their heavenly home, and part of that responsibility is to remind them of the dangers and consequences of going astray.

Sometimes, those consequences are realized in this life, and sometimes, they aren’t realized until we step into eternity.  But there will be consequences to disobeying God’s rules and regulations. And not everybody will thank you for warning them of the consequences. 

Remember from last month, Jeremiah got thrown into an empty well when he tried to warn the people of Israel about the consequences of their actions.  Daniel was thrown into a pit full of lions, John the Baptist had his hear cut off and Jesus was cruicified.

We can’t make people follow God as much as we’d like to.  And that isn’t our responsibility, but it is our responsibility to be salt and light and to warn folks of the consequences. 

Two weeks ago, Angela and I were out at Peggy’s Cove. It was a beautiful day and there wasn’t a lot of wave action, but every once in a while, a wave would crash up over the infamous black rocks.  We had just watched it happen and commented on how they seemed to come from nowhere. 

And then we watched as a tourist from a tour bus wandered down to get a selfie on the black rocks.  See the puddle. It hadn’t been there five minutes before.  How many warning signs did he have to pass to get to that point?

It would be irresponsible not to have warning signs up, but there’s not much more that can be done.

And so, let’s finish this morning by reading verses 9 and 10 together.

Galatians 6:9-10 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. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

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