“When you follow the desires if your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results … [and among a grocery list of evil things is this:] the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group.” (Galatians 5:19-20)
This one jumped out at me. I could not avoid it or get it out of my mind. “The feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group.” This is obviously not a direct translation, but it is found in two popular paraphrases of the New Testament that gives it credibility as to the meaning of the original. Other translations use words like “factions” and “party-spirit.” Either way, it is an evil that is rampant today where the power of party lines is so great. The tendency to demonize all who disagree with you is a powerful rendering of self-righteousness, although we would not call it that. We would quite simply be right and everyone else, wrong. It’s an easy way to manage a chaotic world, except it is not true. Not one of us is free of sin.
We need to replace this attitude with a spirit of kindness that grows out of humility. We should be much more likely to admit our own wrongs instead of pointing out the wrongs of others. And we must guard ourselves from creating factions where our sense of rightness is bolstered by the presence of others in our group where we all agree. These attitudes create divisions that divide up the body instead of the unity of the Spirit that should characterize all that we do. Anything that divides is not of the Spirit. As followers of Christ, people will know we are Christians by our love.
There is so much on the internet and via email these days that tears down others or the other side. We must resist the temptation to partake of these bad ideas and pass them on. If what you are passing on is hurtful or degrading to anyone or any group, it is not of God. Ask yourself: “Is this kind? Is this courteous? Will this build up or tear down? Does this bolster one faction over another? Will this help unify or divide? Is this announcing that I, in my little group, am right, and everyone else is wrong?” Put a stop to the evils of the sinful nature because that is what this is. Our sinful nature is where these wrong attitudes come from.
“But the Holy Spirit produces [another] kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23)