Sermon for July 3rd, 2022, the Third Sunday after Trinity

The Lessons: Isaiah 66:10-16; Psalm 66:1-8; Galatians 6:6-18; Luke 10:1-20

The Text: Galatians 6:6-10


The opening words of our Epistle Lesson can easily be misunderstood. “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” does not simply mean that those who listen to the teaching of God’s word should converse with their teachers. The Greek word which is translated by “communicate” means “share,” or “give a share of.” In this context, the word refers to sharing of one’s material resources with the one who teaches.

This was an important instruction in times when preachers and teachers were self-supporting. But St. Paul proceeds to include this instruction in the principle of sowing seed to the Holy Spirit.

Now St. Paul warns us that God is not mocked or made a fool of (Gal. 6:7). What does this mean? It means that we cannot outwit God by thinking that we can invest in our carnal nature or in worldly concerns and still reap a spiritual harvest. Instead, God’s law holds true that whatever a person sows, he reaps according to the seed that he has sown. Now this agricultural image of sowing and reaping has been misused by some preachers who teach that one can receive God’s blessings (spiritual or financial, or otherwise), if one gives money to their church or ministry. Now as far as this instruction applies to those who receive Christian instruction or listen to preaching, it applies to sharing one’s resources with the preacher, as one can afford to do so. However, the idea of a mandatory seed gift or tithe to receive God’s blessings, is excluded here.

The broader principle is that if one sows in the interests only of oneself, or of “the flesh,” one will reap a harvest of corruption, since all material things are passing away. But the person who sows or invests in the interests of the Holy Spirit, will receive eternal life from the Holy Spirit (Galatians 6:8). What must we do then?

God calls us never to grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap a harvest (Galatians 6:9). The general principle, here, is so important that it even occurs in our Offertory Sentences in the service of Holy Communion:

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

(Galatians 6:10, KJV)

This is the principle of investing in the interest of the Holy Spirit by doing good to all, but especially to “the householders of the faith,” or Christians. This command corresponds to the command given by the Lord Jesus Christ to Christians to love one another (John 13:34-35). The command to love our neighbor corresponds to doing good to all, while the command to love one another corresponds to doing good especially to one’s fellow Christians.

But what is meant by “doing good to all”? There are many diverse needs that people have in this world, and one of the greatest needs of all is for healing, whether it be spiritual, emotional, or physical. The vision of St. Luke’s Chapel is to be a hospital for the soul, a community in which newcomers and strangers receive healing for their souls. Since we know that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Great Physician, it is to him that we must direct people to receive healing of any kind. In doing so, we must become instruments of His healing love and wisdom, and not obstacles to people’s healing. In all that we say and do, we must direct people to Christ our Lord.

Here is an account of a man who missed a particularly important meeting because he was helping a grief-stricken friend.

Mr. Sam Rayburn was Speaker of the House of Representatives longer than any other man in our history. This story about him reveals the kind of man he really was.

The teenage daughter of a friend of his died suddenly one night. Early the next morning the man heard a knock at his door, and on opening it, found Mr. Rayburn standing outside.

The Speaker said, “I just came by to see what I could do to help.”

The father replied in his deep grief, “I don’t think there is anything you can do, Mr. Speaker. We are making all the arrangements.”

“Well,” Mr. Rayburn said, “have you had your coffee this morning?”

His friend replied that they had not taken time for breakfast. Then Mr. Rayburn offered to make coffee for them. While he was doing this in the kitchen, his friend entered and said, ‘Mr. Speaker, I thought you were supposed to be having breakfast at the White House this morning.”

“Well, I was,” Mr. Rayburn answered, “but I called the President and told him I had a friend who was in trouble, and I couldn’t come.”[1]

What are some of the ways in which we can be instruments of Christ’s healing grace? We can do this by giving to the poor, and helping them whenever we can, or volunteering to help organizations that reach out to the poor. We can share the Gospel and the word of God with those who are broken-hearted, for we know God heals the broken-hearted (Psalm 147:3). We can help the lonely by spending time with them and introducing them to people who would be helpful to them. We can reach out to young people whenever we have the opportunity. I talked to a student on the train once, and before I got off the train she said, “Thank you for talking with me.”

There are many people in the world around us in whom we can invest time and attention, and to whom we could listen as they pour out their troubles. In all we do let us invest in the interests of the Holy Spirit. This prayer attributed to St. Francis sums it all up:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is

hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where

there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where

there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where

there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to

be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is

in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we

are born to eternal life. Amen.

 (p.833, The Book of Common Prayer, 1979)

[1] p. 327, Robert J. Morgan: Preacher’s Sourcebook of Creative Illustrations. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2007.

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