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Seeking the Greater Good

When Paul writes to the Church in Galatia, he lists 2 types of behavior we find in human relationships (Galatians 5:19ff). One is a list of negative behaviors that divide people and bring about disharmony. The other is a list of positive behaviors that can, and do, bring peace instead of conflict.

Now some people would say that his lists are simply moral commentaries on what constitutes good and bad behaviors in human society. But, if we look closely at these lists, they suggest that harmful actions are the result of selfishness and a desire for self-interest no matter the cost. The positive actions and emotions that he highlights can only be obtained when we allow our self-interest to be in check for the greater good of others.

Whether we talk about relationships between two people or thousands, the point Paul makes is that real peace and understanding come when we look to care for others first, and ourselves second. The irony is that we cannot find peace unless it is shared. Unless we seek peace for others, perhaps especially for those who seem most unlike us, we cannot find and experience the peace Christ died for us to have.

It is interesting that Paul calls negative actions “work” and positive actions “fruit.” In other words, when we do what we have been created to do, it is natural. When we cause pain and anxiety for others as well as ourselves, it is work. Look for a way to help someone find at least a moment of peace this week, and pass it on.


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