Friday, 27 May 2016
But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! Galatians 5:15
Paul now uses metaphors to show the inevitable result of divisions and strife. He says that “if you bite and devour one another” it can only lead to serious harm. The idea here is in contrast to the loving and serving of the previous two verses.
People who stab one another over minor theological issues might be compared to those who “bite” at one another. Those who utterly destroy others over their theological variances could be compared to those who “devour” one another. The word translated as “bite” gives the idea of serious harm; that of “devour” gives the idea of complete ruination, where even no remains are left behind.
To avoid these harmful battles among the brethren, Paul admonishes them to “beware lest you be consumed by one another!” Just as wild animals bite and devour, they continue to do so until there is nothing left. At this point, they move on to find their next prey. If the Galatians cannot serve in love, they will inevitably come to a point where they are completely devoured. The congregation will be destroyed, and the joy of Christ will no longer be proclaimed.
All of this starts with the first bite. A little theological quibbling over disputable matters generally explodes into complete ruin because pride steps in and refuses to relent. And how common this has become, especially on social media where people don’t even have to face one another. It has become the standard of many to simply shoot out arrogant and harmful words in order to show how theologically adept they are. And this usually occurs by those who actually know very little and who argue over matters they haven’t fully thought through.
Life application: What value is there in tearing apart another person who has devoted their time to carefully analyzing and then preparing a commentary on a passage of Scripture? If you disagree on a point of doctrine, is it truly necessary to attack them over it? Instead, a simple comment about your own position should suffice to show what you believe.
Lord God, how easy it is to attack another Christian over a point of doctrine that we may disagree on. And yet, are we sure that we can defend our own position when we disagree? If not, then what purpose does it serve to attack and bite those we may simply have a misunderstanding with? Help us to be settled in our own doctrine first. Then we can defend what we believe in love rather than attacking in pride. Amen.