Sexual sins are obviously the actions of our sin natures, but breakdowns in interpersonal relationships? Well, they can get labeled as just part of doing business in the world. In fact, those who fuel conflict rivet attention and tend to control the discussion. But when the Apostle Paul wanted to warn the Galatian believers about actions in their lives that the Holy Spirit would battle against, he used three terms to warn them against sexual sins, but seven to stress the threat against interpersonal relationships. Here’s his deadly seven:
“hostility”—this is that hatred that slowly begins to burn against another, including hostility toward God (cf. Romans 8:7 “the sinful mind is hostile toward God”)
“heated quarreling ”—this fuels those intense arguments we get into with one another (cf. 1 Cor. 3:3)
“jealousy” –the motivation of many of our fights is envy because someone is more successful than we are. (2 Cor. 12:20)
“rage”—this is that sudden explosion of temper. For example, when Jesus exposed the racism in his hometown synagogue of Nazareth, they became so full of rage they almost killed him (Lk. 4:28). The crowd that wanted to murder Paul in the theater at Ephesus was filled with this kind of rage (Acts 19:28) “selfish ambition” –this is that drive and focus that’s all centered on our big ego (Cf. James 3:14, 16)
“divisiveness”—this is that weird pleasure we get that causes us to pour more gas on an argument (Romans 16:17)
“party spirit”—the group think that is controlled only by our own “in” group. It doesn’t care about truth or reality. This is the spirit that was causing so much trouble in the churches in Galatia and later almost divided the entire early church at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:5)
“envy”—jealousy is so deadly Paul uses another term to warn us against the green-eyed monster. Peter stressed we need to allow the Spirit to evict this from our lives (1 Peter 2:1). The Jewish leaders handed Jesus over to be crucified because of their envy (Matthew 28:18, Mark 15:10).
LORD, when I feel the heat rising in a discussion today or when someone counters the point I’m making, hold down that tiger in my tank. Thanks for Mary’s steadying hand in helping me not to become angry or too intense and escalate arguments with others.
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