Gal 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! NKJV
Gal 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another [in partisan strife], be careful that you [and your whole fellowship] are not consumed by one another. Amp. V.
Those awful rats!
Some years ago an Irish friend of mine illustrated this verse with a very interesting story from his homeland. A farmer was having a great deal of difficulty with rats on his farm. Rats are a problem worldwide, more in some places than others. They have caused widespread disease, can cause awful damage to buildings, and consume great amounts of food intended for human consumption.
25 million people died in just under five years between 1347 and 1352 from the Bubonic Plague, a terrible disease spread by fleas feeding on infected…rats!! Despite having a life span of only six to nine months, they have litters of between six and ten each time. Potentially sixty more young in their life time.
The farmer hit on a plan to get rid of rats. He simply caught a number of rats and put them in a bin. He didn’t feed them but did give them water. Eventually the rats became ravenously hungry and began to bite and devour one another. The result was that they cannibalized each other until there was only one rat left! Now what? The farmer simply released the last rat and set it free.
This rat had become a cannibal and had developed distinctly different eating habits. Now, instead of feeding on the farmers grain etc., it began to feed on other rats and helped solve the rat problem.
We can be just like rats
Yes, it is a gruesome story, but certainly none less than the way believers bite and devour one another! Why is that among us as brethren, who have very similar doctrinal beliefs, there is so much division? Not just division but bitterness and even hatred?
Can we not see the enemy’s hand in this? Have we forgotten that the Holy Spirit works through the new nature but Satan works through the flesh? The verse we are talking about is Gal. 5:15, but if we go to the previous verse we see the context: Gal 5:14 “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Don’t turn a blind eye to problems
So… does this mean that we are to just love on one another? I’m OK, You’re OK? Don’t judge. don’t criticize, don’t raise any ‘uncomfortable’ questions, etc., etc.? NO! Not at all. Because the Lord loves us, He corrects us, sometimes painfully. Heb 12:6 reminds us, “Whom the Lord loves he chastens and scourges every son whom He receives.”
Do you love your children? God’s Word says that if you really love them you will discipline them! It will be painful, for them and you, but if you love them you will be a lot more concerned about what they will eventually be than you are about how they feel about you – and you about yourself. Prov 13:24 tells us, “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”
A need to be Spirit-led
Do you really love the brothers and sisters in your assembly? If you do, you will try to stop them from heading down a dangerous or destructive path. Prov 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” It will be painful, for them and you, but if you love them you will be a lot more concerned about what they will eventually be than you are about how they feel about you – and you about yourself.
We need to be led by the Holy Spirit in helping our brothers and sisters, don’t we? Needless to say, this doesn’t mean that we dash off to become the self-appointed ‘assembly police’ and a general pain to everyone. We don’t chase our children around looking for things to ‘correct’, do we?
Only one solution
What is the answer? Gal 5:16 says, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” By walking in the Spirit we deny the flesh and its determination to destroy and tear down. In everything we do, do we know what it means to walk with the Lord?
Are we teaching what it means to walk in the Spirit in our assemblies? It is essential that elders are spiritually mature men who know, demonstrate and teach what it means to live a victorious Christian life walking in the Spirit.