Dealing With Wolfish Behaviour Requires a Good Sheepdog

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The last two chapters of Galatians are rich with teaching. The issue throughout the book has been the problems that were being caused by the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who had infiltrated the church and were trying to teach, as Paul puts it, “a different gospel” (1:6).

As wolves are prone to do, they divided the flock of God. “Divide and conquer” is an effective strategy for getting what you want—every kid knows how to play off one parent against another.

In these final words, Paul urges the Galatians not to give in, to “stand firm” (5:1), to continue to run “a good race” (5:7). He reminds them that it is important not to tolerate the untruth because “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” (5:9).

Instead Paul urges the believers to walk in the Spirit and not fall into the trap of wolfish behaviour. “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one commandment: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour one another, watch out of you will be destroyed by each other” (5:13-15).

True Christians put off the wolfish nature (5:16-21) and practice love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (5:22, 23).

In Chapter 6, Paul also encourages the people to lovingly correct sin. This is burden-bearing (6:2), At the same time each believer is to watch himself that he doesn’t fall into the same sin (6:1, 3-5).

But the warning is clear. God will not allow those who seek to destroy His body, the church, to go unpunished. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (6:7). The wolf who devours others will himself be devoured.

This assurance that right will prevail adds weight to Paul’s words: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (6:9, 10).

Every church needs a few good sheepdogs.

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