Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Power of Words

Matt’s Story:
Matt got mad at his best friend Chris because Chris sat next to Matt’s ex-girlfriend at lunch.  Matt used some colorful language to describe what kind of friend he thought Chris was. Chris shouted a few choice words back to Matt before storming off. Later Matt realized that since he did not really like that girl anymore anyway, he was being unfair to Chris. Matt regretted his harsh words. What should Matt do?

Tonya’s Story:
Tonya has strong opinions about everything. She also has a hard time keeping her opinions to herself. She has lost a number of good friends over the years because of her inability to keep her thoughts to herself. As she approaches her senior year of high school, she feels lonely because she does no longer has any close friends. What should Tonya do to have a better senior year?

Our Culture’s Story:
We live in a culture in which many television shows and movies use curse words in casual ways. It seems that even the worst swear words are now commonplace in our society. People feel comfortable writing things on someone else’s Facebook page that they would not be willing to say it to their face. Numerous polls reveal that people are much ruder now than they used to be.

The Power of Words:
                  Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can hurt us even more.
                  We really DO CARE what other people say to us or about us, even if we pretend we do not.
                  Most of us can think of at least one thing a person said to us more than two years ago that still hurts.

Those of us who are Christians should be careful about what we say because God expects us to use our words to help instead of hurt.

Proverbs 13:3 - The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.
                  What does it mean to guard our mouth?
                  A guard is someone who watches over something to make sure nothing bad happens. Therefore, guarding our mouth means watching what we say so that nothing bad happens due to our words.
                  Why does the verse say that the person who guards their mouth will protect their life?
                  Though it is possible to make someone so mad at us by what we say that they may kill us, this is more likely referring to our quality of life.
             When people go through friends quickly, it is usually because people cannot stand what they say. Maybe they talk about themselves all the time. Maybe they are a liar. Maybe they talk mean to their friends. Maybe they just talk non-stop and it is too exhausting to be around them. In any case, a person who does not guard their tongue will have a less fulfilling life than the person who does.
                  What does it mean that people who talk too much invite their own ruin?
                  Though no one is perfect, the more we say, the more likely we will eventually say something we should not say.
             That does not mean that we have to remain quiet all the time, but it does mean that we might want to gauge how much we are talking in comparison to those around us. If we are dominating every conversation, then we are more likely to say something that is going to ruin a friendship or cause pain to ourselves or others. There is a time to talk and there is a time to listen. Part of growing up is learning the difference between those two times.

James 3:5 - Though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites.
             The average human tongue is 4 inches long.
             The average human tongue weighs only 2 ½ ounces.
             The human tongue has 8 muscles in it.
             Yet, this small part of the body gets us in a lot of trouble.
             Our whole lives can be set on fire by our tongue.

2 Timothy 2:16 - But avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness.
                  One way to control our tongue is to avoid irreverent speech.
                  What is irreverent speech?
                  The word reverent means respecting a person or a place and often is connected with something considered sacred such as God or the church.
                  Therefore, irreverent words would be those that disrespect a person or place, especially things connected to God.
                  Another way to control our tongue is to avoid empty speech. Empty speech refers to words that have no purpose other than to hear ourselves talk.
                  Some people feel awkward if there is a silent moment, so they say the first thing that comes to mind, which often the wrong thing to do is.
                  Other people are just so self-centered; they must fill every quiet moment talking about themselves. This is exhausting for the people listening and often results in a loss of friends.
                  If we can learn to control these two kinds of speech, we can avoid a lot of mess in our lives.
                  The opposite is also true, if we fail to avoid these two kinds of speech, we will have a bigger mess to deal with later.

                    Words can hurt whether spoken or printed in a text or Facebook post.
                    As Christians, we have are responsible to guard our words so they do not hurt others.
                    When we fail to guard our words, it lowers our quality of life and creates bigger issues to deal with later.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hard Soil Begins to Sprout Gospel Fruit

Note: This post was co-written by Dr. Terry Dorsett and Rev. Mark Ballard. 

Though at several points in history the New England area has been the spark plug for revival that spread across the nation, that is no longer the case. Many have referred to New England as the graveyard for churches and pastors. This is especially true in Vermont, which is the least churched state in the nation and has some of hardest gospel soil in New England. However, that soil is starting to loosen up as God brings things to fruition that were only dreams in the past.

One of those dreams is the opening of Northeastern Baptist College in Bennington, Vermont. Mark Ballard, president of the new college, has had this dream for many years. Through a unique set of circumstances God showed that it was time for that dream to be fulfilled. After an exhaustive search of 150 sites across New England, the college leadership selected Bennington, Vermont, as the location for the new college.

“One of the factors that made the Bennington location perfect is that there is already an excellent Christian school in Bennington that had two entire floors of their building available for the college to locate in,” reports Mark Ballard. Bennington’s proximity to the rest of New England and easy access from New York were also a significant factor.

With classes slated to begin August 21, 2012, the administration, faculty and staff have put together a unique blend of rigorous academics, practical mentoring and field application that will enable students to develop the Mind of a Scholar, the Heart of a Shepherd and the Perseverance of a Soldier. Initially the college will offer bachelor’s degrees in Biblical Studies, Music and Education. 

Phil Steadman, board member for Grace Christian School and pastor at Capstone Baptist Church said, “The evangelical community in Bennington is excited to have the school located in our region. We believe the college will make a positive impact in our local churches and that the churches can be a blessing to the college.”

The impact of Northeastern Baptist College upon local churches will not have to wait until students begin to graduate, but will be experienced immediately through the college’s practical application requirements.  While enrolled each student must put his or her academic studies into practice by participating in the ministry of local churches throughout New England and New York.  Those in the church planting program must be involved in a church plant, those in pastoral ministry will be required to assist a seasoned pastor, those in music must serve in the music ministry of a church, etc.  Practical experience will also extend beyond the local congregation through the college’s Travel with a Purpose program.  This unique practical application requirement will not only have a positive impact on local churches by providing additional workers, but will also help students to gain the Mind of a Scholar, the Heart of a Shepherd and the Perseverance of a Soldier.

God has been moving in Vermont in a special way for the past decade. Though the evangelical church is small, it has grown by nearly 18% since 2000. The one piece that has been missing is deeper theological training. Terry Dorsett, Director of Missions for the Green Mountain Baptist Association says, “We believe that the Northeastern Baptist College will fill the gap and help the evangelical church continue to grow in Vermont.”

To learn more about Northeastern Baptist College you can visit the website at

Monday, February 27, 2012

Missions: Local and Global

In addition to serving as the Church Planting Catalyst for the Green Mountain Baptist Association, I am also one of the elders at Faith Community Church. Though our church is only a few years old, we care deeply about sharing the gospel in Vermont and around the world. We have demonstrated that concern by reaching out to non-churched people in our community as well as sponsoring missions in the nearby towns of Northfield and Waterbury.

This summer we will embark on a brand new adventure of helping orphans in Haiti. We are sending a team of 16 to minister alongside Haitian nationals at God’s Littlest Angels orphanage Petitionville, Haiti.

It has been interesting to observe people’s reaction to this new ministry. Some have expressed excitement that we are finally going to do real missions because we are traveling to another country. I remind them that we have been doing real missions for years because Vermont is itself a great mission field. Others have expressed frustration that we are going all the way to Haiti when there are so many needy children right in our own community. I try to remind them that our church ministers to local children through a variety of ways but that we must also care about people in places that do not have the resources that we do.

Trying to help both individuals and churches grasp the importance of balance in mission work can be a challenge. Some churches will give their last dollar to reach a poor person in an under-developed nation but would not walk across the street to share Jesus with homeless man. Others would invest all their time and energy in a helping those across the street but neglect the much larger world that has overwhelming needs.

We need to come to terms with the reality that it should not be one or the other. We must be burdened for both local and global needs and we must be active in reaching both regions for Christ. Acts 1:8 tells us to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. This verse clearly says that we will be witness to all of those places. It does not tell us to pick one and ignore the rest. We must be willing to allow God to use us to share the gospel locally, regionally and globally. There is simply no other option for a healthy Christian or a healthy church.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Boasting in Christ Alone

A sermon developed by Dr. Terry Dorsett based on Galatians 6:12-17.

             Galatians was written by the apostle Paul to churches that he had started to reach non-Jews.
             Some Jewish Christians told the non-Jewish believers that they had to follow all the Old Testament laws and Jewish traditions in order to be real Christians.
             Paul made it clear that salvation is by FAITH in Christ alone and not through religious activities or rituals.

Verse 12 - Those who want to make a good impression in the flesh are the ones who would compel you to be circumcised—but only to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
             Many people are focused on making good impressions in front of others.
             When making an impression is our focus, we are often compelled to do things that we would otherwise not do.
             This even happens in the church, such as the case of circumcision.
             Though circumcision had spiritual value to the Jews as a sign of their covenant with God, it had no spiritual value to the non-Jews who were not God’s chosen people.
             Some Jews were trying to force non-Jewish believers into being circumcised just so they could boast about it.
             The Jews who were promoting this loved the Law more than they loved the Savior behind the Law.
             It is amazing what people are willing to do if pressured into it.
             Religion, when used wrongly, can be a very powerful control factor over others.
             There are some spiritual leaders who are more interested in controlling their flock than shepherding it.
             Those types of leaders will always lead the flock down roads of false spirituality.
             If someone does not speak up, those paths will only lead to disaster for both individuals and churches.

Verse 13 - For even the circumcised don’t keep the law themselves; however, they want you to be circumcised in order to boast about your flesh.
             Paul pointed out that people who are overly image focused do not keep their own rules, but they sure want others to keep them.
             People who are focused on making a good outward impression while ignoring big issues going on behind the scenes are living a double life, which is very unhealthy.
             If we spend all of our energy trying to look good in public while our lives are a mess, we feel terrible about ourselves regardless of how we look.
             Therefore, we are tempted to try to fix everyone else’s issues so we do not have to think about our own.
             We may even boast about helping others because it makes us feel better about our two-faced life.

Verse 14 - But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world.
             Paul had learned not to boast about his image as a Jewish religious leader because maintaining that image had forced him to do some terrible things.
             Remember, Paul was a Jewish zealot who persecuted the Christian church before his conversion. Paul talks about this in Philippians 3:4-8.
             Paul had a pedigree that made him look good.
             But his past pedigree became a predatory parasite when he trusted in it for spiritual direction.
             In Acts 9 Paul got knocked off his high horse on the Damascus road and he realized that his pedigree would not produce prosperous spirituality. Paul learned not to boast in his own greatness.
             Paul realized all he could boast about was the cross.

We Can Boast about the Cross Because
             Through the cross of Christ we are free from the guilt of the law, which is good since we constantly fail to keep the law.
             Through the cross of Christ we rejoice that we no longer desire to live for self but to live for Christ who died for us.
             Through the cross we discover the ability to walk in love toward Christ and toward others while offering ourselves as living sacrifices.
             Through the cross of Christ we find comfort, not only in the troubles we experience in this life, but also in the death of the saints. For we sorrow not as those who have no hope and we comfort others as we have been comforted.
             Through the cross of Christ we observe with reverence the most perfect example of patience, meekness and willingness in suffering. This urges us to run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith.
             Through the cross of Christ we find the strength to fight against the prince of darkness because it was on that cross that Christ crushed the head of the serpent and emerged the victor over the dark domain.
             Through the cross of Christ we find eternal life in the presence of a holy God.
             We can boast in all of these things through the cross, but without the cross our boasting would turn to mourning as we realized we have no freedom, no rejoicing, no walking in love, no comfort, no perfect example to follow, no strength against the evil one, no hope of eternal life.
             Let us rejoice in the cross!

Verse 15 - For both circumcision and uncircumcision
             Paul points out that from a spiritual perspective, whether a man had been circumcised or not meant nothing.
             What should have mattered to the non-Jewish believers in Paul’s day was that they had been born again of the Spirit and had become new creations in Christ.
             As we relate this to our modern culture, our salvation does not depend on whether we make a good impression at church or not.
             What matters is that we have become a new creation and have been born again.
             If we have not yet been born again, then nothing else matters until we get that settled!

Verse 16 - May peace come to all those who follow this standard, and mercy to the Israel of God!
             Once we settle the question of our salvation, then a peace comes upon us that is impossible to explain to someone who has not yet experienced it.
             We often lack a sense of peace because we know we cannot meet the standard of perfection that is required to be close to a Holy God.
             That focus on “being perfect” robs us of the peace we want in our lives and creates constant stress from trying to be perfect all the time.
             When we realize that our focus should be on loving Christ instead of impressing others through religious activities, we suddenly find great peace because that standard is so much easier to meet.

Verse 17 - From now on, let no one cause me trouble, because I bear on my body scars for the cause of Jesus.
             Paul’s body bore physical scars that he had received from the many beatings and imprisonments he had suffered for his faith.
             Those scars most likely made him unsightly to look at.
             Paul was never going to impress anyone with his outward appearance.
             But that did not matter to Paul because he was more concerned with loving and following Jesus than how he looked outwardly to others.
             Paul had progressed in his spiritual walk enough to have lifted his eyes off the mundane things of this world and set them on Jesus. What an example for us to follow!

             People who are overly focused on their outward image will also try to force other people into doing things that are not needed.
             This even happens in the church and can lead to spiritual abuse if we do not stand against it.
             We must accept the reality that all our boasting is vain except for the cross.
             If we have not yet been born again, we will have no peace in our lives nor hope for eternity until we come to the cross of Jesus.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Should Non-Christians Come to Church?

I love to write. I write blogs. I write articles for several different websites. I write sermons. I write a newsletter for my employer. I write books. It is a hobby, and occasionally a way to supplement my ministry income. I have just finished writing a book entitled "Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church." The subject matter of the book is obvious from the title.
But this post is not to promote the book, it is to talk about an interesting discussion I have had with one of the people who worked on some of the promotional materials for the book. In many of the promotional items he kept inserting words and phrases that made it sound like I only wanted young adults who were already Christians to come to church. I kept making changes to his copy to make it clear that both Christian and non-Christian young adults should be welcome at church. He seemed to struggle with this idea. His main question was "Why would a church want to attract a large crowd of non-Christian young adults?" I had trouble getting the concept of the Great Commission or John 3:16 or evangelism or the need to rescue sinners from an eternity in hell across to him. I am not sure he ever really understood, but he did finally stop trying to word the material in a way that sounded like only Christians could participate in the life of the church.

My many emails and phone calls with him made me wonder how many Christians think the same way as my book promoter. Perhaps that is why evangelical churches across the nation are shrinking. Has the evangelical church become a social club where only certain people are welcome? Perhaps. But that is not the church that Jesus founded 2000 years ago. Jesus founded a church that said "Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavily burdened and I will give you rest." The church that Jesus founded believed that "Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." I like the church that Jesus founded. I am not so sure about the one my book promoter attends. This is something to think about as we ponder God's future for whatever church we are a part of.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Meaning of Ash Wednesday

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and I taught the teens at our Wednesday night youth group all about what it means. Since I did not grow up in a tradition that observed Ash Wednesday, I had to invest some time learning about myself before I could teach it to others. Then I had to explain it to a group of young people that mostly come from non-religious families. I was impressed with how well they grasped the concept. I thought I would share the basic ideas with my readers.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Many Christians observe Lent during the 40 days before Easter. Traditionally, Christians prayed and fasted during Lent as a way to re-energize their faith in preparation for the Easter celebration of the resurrection of Christ. For those who may not know, fasting means going without food.

In modern times, some people still fast during Lent, but most people chose to give something else up instead of food. For example, people may give up dessert, cigarettes, video games, television, etc. The point of going without something during Lent is to demonstrate our willingness to sacrifice for Christ since He sacrificed so much for us.

The reason Lent lasts 40 days is because that was how long Jesus was tempted in the desert by Satan. Since very few of the young people in our church are familiar with that story, I read the story from Luke 4:1-11.

In the story Jesus went out into the desert where He was tempted by Satan. This was a particularly challenging temptation because Jesus had gone 40 days without eating, so he would have been physically weak. Satan tempted Jesus three times.

1. Satan tempted Jesus to show off His power by turning stones into bread.

2. Satan tempted Jesus to bypass God’s plan for establishing the Kingdom of God by worshipping Satan instead of God.

3. Satan tempted Jesus to test God by jumping off the top of the temple.

In each situation, Jesus refused to sin and instead quoted scripture to Satan. Satan then left Jesus alone, at least for a time.

How does this story relate to our lives? We all go through “desert” times in our lives when things get difficult. When we are going through hard times, Satan loves to tempt us to try to make things easier on ourselves through some sin. We must refuse to sin because though sin may give us a momentary sense of relief, it creates bigger problems down the road. Since Satan is crafty, it can sometimes be difficult to recognize his deceptive ways. Therefore, we must learn the Bible, which will help us understand God’s opinions on things and not be fooled by Satan. When we go through a time of testing and are victorious, then Satan will leave us alone for a while.

What does this story have to do with Ash Wednesday, Lent and Easter? When we remember that Jesus was tempted, just like we are, but overcame those temptations, it helps us to find new strength to overcome our own temptations. When we give up something we like for a period of time, it helps us become more dependent on God, as well as builds up our will power, both of which are helpful in overcoming sin in our lives.

What does the ash have to do with it since Jesus did not use ash to resist Satan’s temptations? In ancient times ash symbolized people’s desire to turn away from sin and follow God. People often repented in sackcloth and ashes. Therefore, on Ash Wednesday those who want to make a commitment to focus on prayer for 40 days and give up something for the Lord for 40 days would have some ash put on their forehead in the sign of the cross. This was an outward physical sign of an inner spiritual decision the person was making. Traditionally, the ash came from palm branches that had been used the year before in Palm Sunday services. But since I did not have any of those on hand we asked the young people present to write one sin they struggled with on a piece of paper, which we then burned, creating ash to use on their foreheads as a symbol of repentance from sin and a willingness to sacrifice something for the Lord.

Though Ash Wednesday is not a part of my normal religious tradition as a Baptist, I was moved learning about it and it seemed to me that the young people who took part in this special emphasis were moved as well. Perhaps it is something more Christians should consider taking part in.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Importance of Pronouns

I just read a fascinating article in the February 25, 2012 issue of World magazine. The article discussed the issue of self-focus. It was based on research by James Pennebaker, who writes for Harvard Business Review. Pennebaker used a sophisticated computer system to study 400,000 written items. He discovered that people who use “I” statements a lot are so self-focused that they may actually have underlying psychological issues. To quote the article, “Pronouns tells us where people focus their attention. If someone uses the pronoun I, it’s a sign of self-focus.” He went on to conclude that “depressed people use the word I much more often than emotionally stable people.” Pennebaker also noted that people who committed suicide had the word I far more often in their poems and letters than other poets and writers.

As our society has become more self-focused, we have become less emotionally healthy. Perhaps instead of being so focused on what we want out of life, we might begin to ask what others need. As we learn to turn out attention away from ourselves and toward helping others, we will find our life has more purpose, fulfillment and joy. Perhaps that is what Jesus was trying to tell us in Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Read my other post on a similar subject: Self-Focused and Rude

Read about the danger of "I" statements in sermons: I Versus You Syndrome

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Power of Self-Deception

I love to people watch at the mall. I love to see how people in a group respond differently to the exact same stimuli. I love to hear young people laugh. I love to watch Spirit filled Christians worship. I find people fascinating, perhaps because I learn a lot about myself as I watch others react to the world around them.

One aspect of my “people-watching” hobby that I do not enjoy is observing our power of self-deception. I am amazed at how easily we tell ourselves things that are nowhere close to being true. When I hear someone describe themselves using words and phrases that only exist in their minds, not only do I wonder how they can be so miss-guided about their own life, I wonder what lies I have told myself that others see so clearly in me.
The other day I was reading a Facebook conversation between two people. Both are classic “spend-a-holics.” If they have a ten dollar bill in their pocket, they are going to spend it. Sadly, they often spend their ten dollars in advance, causing them to often be indebted to others. As the conversation unfolded, they both prided themselves on how well they handle money. They went on to talk about how they can enjoy “free” and “inexpensive” things to do. Honestly, the words “free” and “inexpensive” do not come to mind when I think of either of those two people. They are good people. I like them a lot. But they both enjoy spending money, almost to the point of being obsessed with “stuff.” Yet, in their minds, they are thrifty and excel in living frugally.

Then there was the long email I got from a person the other day filled with gossip about all the people in their church they did not like. Near the end of the email the person said that they may have some other issues but one thing they did not do was gossip. I so wanted to print the email off, underline their boast about NOT being a gossip and then number each item of gossip in the email and send it back to them with a couple of key scriptures written in the margins. I did not have the courage for that, so instead I told them they should talk to the people individually instead of talking to me and assured the person I would be praying for them. Which I have been doing.
And do not even get me started on all the “diet experts” who have tried to teach me how to eat healthy, almost all of which weigh far more than me! But now I have gone to meddling, so let me make my point.

People are fascinating for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is that we have an amazing capacity for self-deception. When we live in a world of our own delusional thinking, we will be trapped in a negative cycle repeating the same mistakes over and over again. We must be willing to open our minds and hearts to the constructive criticism of others so that we can see our own faults and begin to address them. The ability to honestly assess our own lives and self-correct is essential for healthy living. In my own life, I find a daily quiet time with the Lord essential in this process. As I read the scripture and pray, the Lord points out things in my life that need work. I do not always like what my Friend points out to me. But when I listen and respond, it makes me a more authentic person with a healthier view of self than I had before. What mirror are you using to help you see your imperfections and address them?

For more devotionals like this one, consider Touching the Footprints of Jesus

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Taking Care of the Family

A sermon outline/Bible study of Galatians 6:1-10 developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett and preached at Lyndon Center Baptist Church, Lyndon Center, VT, and Faith Community Church, Barre, VT.

             Galatians was written by the apostle Paul to churches that he had started to reach non-Jews.
             Some Jewish Christians told the non-Jewish believers that they had to follow all the Old Testament laws and Jewish traditions in order to be real Christians.
Paul made it clear that salvation is by FAITH in Christ and not through religious rituals.
             Paul also showed that if we have genuine faith in Christ and are living that faith out in loving service to others, then we will find great freedom in our faith and will bear much spiritual fruit for the Kingdom of God.
             It is very difficult to live that kind of spiritual life on our own. We need to be part of a healthy family of faith in order to be all that God wants us to be.

Verse 1 - Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
             When the New Testament uses the terms “brothers” or “sisters,” it refers to the family of God.
             The church should be a loving family.
             Regretfully, churches often look more like dysfunctional families in need of serious help.
             Churches often show their dysfunction when someone in the group is “caught” in a sin.
             This could refer to a person who was sinning on purpose and finally got caught.
             It is important to note that eventually EVERYONE gets caught!
             Being caught could also apply to a person who gave in to temptation in a moment of weakness and suddenly found themselves caught in a situation they did not want.
             Either way, the person sinned and is now caught.
             When a person in the church is caught in a sin, other people in the church who are trying to live by the Spirit should try to help.
             There is a fine line between “helping” and “judging.”
             We should work hard to find that line and stay on the helping side of it because we all will have our turn at being caught in sin and will need someone to help us out of it.
             Likewise, “meddling” and “ministry” have a fine line that we must work hard to discover so we can minister effectively to each other.
             The people who should help are those who are living by the Spirit.
             Living by the Spirit means we are not gratifying the desires of our own sinful nature and we have the fruit of the spirit in our own lives (Galatians 5:16).
             In other words, we cannot be engaged in the same sin and point it out in others while ignoring it in our own lives.
             We call that hypocrisy.
             Hypocrisy is never helpful in the church family.
             When we help someone with a sin issue, our goal should be to restore them to full fellowship with God and with the church.
             The Greek word for restore is katartizo. It is a medical term used for setting a broken bone and putting it right.
             The same word was also used in Matthew 4:21 for mending nets and in 2 Corinthians 13:11 about people mending their ways.
             The word is always used in the context of correcting something that is broken so that it can be used again.
             When we catch someone in a sin, our purpose should never be to serve as the judge, jury and prosecutor.
             Our purpose is to restore them so they can be used by the Lord again.
             We must do this gently.
             Having both a gentle attitude and gentle actions helps restoration seem possible for imperfect people.
             If we lack gentleness, we will probably just end up in an argument.
             We will never argue someone into restoration.
             As we seek to help others, we must watch our own hearts.
             No one is immune to temptation.
             Even if we are not tempted by the same things as the person we are seeking to help, we can be easily tempted by something.

Verse 2 - Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
             Sometimes people’s sins have piled up to the point that they will be unable to deal with it on their own.
             Other times people have been victimized by other people’s sins so many times that they are overwhelmed and are unable to deal with all the issues they are facing.
             When that happens, we must be willing to do more than just point out the problem.
             We must help carry their burden.
             The Greek word for burden is baros. It refers to an overloaded cart that has so much extra stuff on it that it is unable to move like it should.
             The Old Testament law was good at pointing out things not to do and we often need that in our lives.
             Many Christians excel at Old Testament living while missing the joy of serving others.

Verse 3 - If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.
             When we only point out problems in others’ lives but offer no help in overcoming them, it tends to come off as having a “holier than thou” attitude.
             People who have “holier than thou” attitudes often see everyone else’s faults but miss their own.
             Such people have fooled themselves into thinking they are pretty great.
             NEWS FLASH: no one else is fooled!
             We need to think a little less of ourselves a little more about others.
             We need to think a little less of ourselves and a WHOLE LOT more of Jesus.

Verse 4 - Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.
             Tearing others down may give us a temporary sense of pride, but it is a pride that is fleeting and will fail us.
             Instead of tearing others down, we should examine our own hearts by testing our actions.
             Testing our actions means examining our motives for why we took the actions we did.
             Sometimes we will not like what we see when we really look at our motives.
             When we do not like what we see in ourselves, we should begin to change things in our lives.
             We will feel a lot better about ourselves when we actually fix our issues than when we just tear others down to try to get them to our level.
             We must also remember that the real standard to compare ourselves to is Christ.
             That standard will keep us from getting too prideful!

Verse 5 - for each one should carry their own load.
             There are times in our lives when we must help other people carry their burdens.
             But we must not enable people to live sinful or unproductive lives.
             Each of us must we willing to do our part to make life work.
             The Greek word for load used in this verse is phortion. A Greek phortion is about what a man would carry in backpack, or the amount that one individual would be personally responsible for in any group effort.
             While we all need help from time to time, we should avoid becoming dependent on others.
             We should do our part.
             This applies to all areas of life.
             We should do our part in helping the church serve others.
             We should do our part in meeting our financial obligations.
             We should do our part in making our relationships healthy.
             We should be givers instead of takers.

Verse 6 - Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their teacher.
             One aspect of doing our part to create a healthy Christian community is to share with our teachers what God is doing in our lives.
             This would include formal “teachers,” as well as people who have taught us important concepts through their actions and attitudes.
             Their part is to teach, our part is to apply what we learned and then report back to them.
             It is very encouraging to a pastor, Sunday School teacher or ministry leader when someone shares with them how God has used what they taught to impact their life.
             Likewise, it is a great encouragement to hear how some thing we did impacted other people’s lives even if we did not realize that people noticed what we did.

Verse 7 - Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
             Since we reap what we sow, when we do our part to make things better, we reap rich rewards.
             Likewise, when we fail to do our part, our struggles increase.
             The Greek word for mocked literally means outwitted. Sometimes we think we can outwit God by not doing our part but still hoping to enjoy God’s blessings.
             But our relationship with God and with our fellow Christians is like a spiritual boomerang. Whatever we offer to others is what comes back to us.
             The good news is that even if we have sown some bad stuff in the past, we can start sowing good stuff now and eventually we will start reaping good results. Just remember that it may take a while to harvest all the junk first.

Verse 9 - Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
             What we often want in life is a quick return on our effort.
             Though we may have sown bad seeds for years, we want to show up to church, pray a couple of prayers, throw some money in the offering and expect instant blessings from God.
             But the law of reaping and sowing takes time.
             We may have to sow as many years of goodness as we did badness before we begin to see the results.
             Because this process takes time, we must not become weary in doing good.
             The Greek word for weary means “do not retreat in battle, do not give up the fight.” What an important lesson to learn!

Verse 10 - Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
             Because we must all do our part to make the family of God function well, and because we will sometimes have to help those who are overwhelmed and because we know that we will reap what we sow, then we should always be on the lookout for opportunities to sow some good seed.
             When the needs around us are too great, then we should FIRST help those who are in the Christian family.
             That does not mean we should not also help those outside the family, it simply means that when we cannot do everything that needs to be done, we help our brothers and sisters first.

             The church should be like a family.
             Everyone in the family should do their part to make things work and offer help to others in the family when needed.
             When family members do wrong, we must gently restore them to right actions without getting ourselves into similar situations.
Though it takes time to see results, we must hang in there and keep doing good.