"Devouring One Another"

An enthusiastic young man, a church-goer, made a home visit on an older woman in the congregation. He asked her if she had been at church the day before and she said she had. He said he hadn't been able to go and asked her what the minister preached about. She said she couldn't remember. So he asked her what the Scripture text had been. She said she recalled it was a good sermon, but just couldn't recall what it was about. The young man told he her thought it was odd she'd go to church if she couldn't bring home a single word about it. It was a waste of time. The woman looked sternly at the young man and asked if he'd do her a favor. He agreed and she asked him to take an old wicker clothes basket out to the well and bring it back full of water. To which he replied, "Come on now. I'm not such a simpleton that I wouldn't know that there wouldn't be a drop of water in the basket when I got back." The old woman smiled. "Perhaps you're right," she said. "I dare say there wouldn't be a drop, but the basket might be a bit cleaner!"

Even if you don't remember what I've said in a sermon after you leave here, and some of you do and some don't, nevertheless, the Holy Spirit plants something within you that relates only to you. Sometimes folks don't even know they retained something till something occurs and it applies. 

But other times it's just that being at worship, hearing God's Word, singing praises, confession, praying-those things are what you need that day, and you leave, as the woman in the story says about the wicker clothes basket, cleaner. You've left things behind giving your cares over to Jesus. You let the Holy Spirit enter your heart to encourage you, uplift you, strengthen you for your week ahead. Most of all, you became aware of the presence of God in your life. So, even if you don't remember what the sermon was about, it's good that you are here.

Which-strange as it might seem-brings me to the title of my sermon today, "Devouring One Another." That was a phrase in the Scripture lesson from Galatians this morning.

The reason we gather together in our encounter with God, rather than trying to go it alone, is that, as we gather, we strengthen and encourage, each other, and support and lift up one another in prayer. We gather for those reasons, but often don't live that out-often we let each other be devoured.

You are part of this congregation, this gathering this morning-member, friend, visitor-for a reason. The Holy Spirit brought you here-God has a purpose for you and your life here. You are not just strengthened and encouraged for your own life-it's not a selfish, singular matter when we gather. We are here for each other. We are strengthened in the use of our God-given gifts so we can serve others in Christ's name. We start here.

Are you familiar with the expression "Friends don't let friends drive drunk"? It means we ARE our "brother's keeper." We are meant to look out for one another and how we make use of our God-given talents and gifts.

As the church led by the Holy Spirit, gathered in Christ's name, we are all part of the body of Christ. That is, we are brought together, formed as a body, by the Holy Spirit. It's no accident that you are here this morning; not even as a visitor-it 's no accident that you're here this morning.

Each part of the body is essential. Each gift we bring as individuals to the body gathered is essential. If you misuse or abuse a part of your body it affects the rest of your body. Well, we gathered here as the body of Christ, we are all in this together; what we do as individuals in that body, affects that body. We must care for and about each other so our mission, ministry, outreach to each other and to the community and world as a gathered body of Christ can all be done in Christ's name, fulfilling God's will for us and for the world.

That means we can't abuse one another. By that I mean we can't let members or friends do more than their share-overwork themselves, over volunteer, over involve themselves doing what others should be doing-because that abuses their gifts. It makes their gifts weaker and makes the gift of who we are as a congregation weaker, less effective. It means each of you has to live up to doing YOUR share. If you see someone over involved, over worked, you need to step up and help-relieve some of their burden so it ISN'T a burden to them.

If we-no, I'm going to say "you" in this so that you don't think I'm talking about ME being overworked-if you devour one another by letting each other over expend your energy by letting some get burned out-how is that helping them? How is that helping you? You weaken the very church/congregation you want to support, through which you want to put your God-given gifts to work. But even beyond that, you weaken each other in your ability to support and encourage one another as you face the challenges of your week.

Outside these walls there are things in this world that will easily capture our attention and even our energy and lead us away from fulfilling who it is that God created us as-what it is that God created YOU to be-giving you specific talents and gifts.

And no matter what your age, God keeps giving you gifts-our gifts and talents change over the years. But we are NEVER without God-given gifts that are meant to be used in service to the glory of God's creation and God's created-you and me and a world of people.

The world is not an easy place to live. It's full of dissentions, factions, jealousy, anger, envy, drunkenness, carousing, idolatry, strife, enmities and the like. It is so easy for humans, for you and me, to get caught up in the likes of such things. And these things are waiting to devour our energy and our attention-anything that will make us take our eyes off Jesus; anything to make us not listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but rather, listen to the devil let our attention be drawn to all his tricks.

You know what envy, anger, greed, quarrels, jealousy, factions etc. are. You know how easy they can grab your attention sometimes. We all KNOW when we are angry or jealous or quarrelsome. We know. And when we know-that's when we should recognize the devil has a grip on us and immediately recognize we have lost our focus-we've taken our eyes off Jesus-we've blocked out the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

When we get caught in any of those situations or negative emotions we should immediately focus on any of the gifts the Holy Spirit has given us-love, joy, peace, faithfulness, generosity, gentleness, patience, kindness-and we'll get back in touch with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and get Jesus back into the center of our focus.

The youth seem to think it is part of growing into adulthood to have sexual encounters. They think that drinking alcohol, being able to hold their liquor, makes them more mature. Where in the teachings of Jesus does it say that? Could it be they don't KNOW the teachings of Jesus? Could it be that their parents or guardians or the congregation who promised at their baptism to support their parents in teaching them the basics of their faith has failed them? Could it be those adults don't know the teaching very well themselves? And there ARE parents who think that teaching their children to know how to drink and hold their liquor is important in their development into adulthood. Where in the teachings of Jesus does it indicate that?

There are parents who are relieved to find their son or daughter is not into drugs but only into alcohol. There are parents who don't care that their children are having sex as long as they take the proper precautions, use protection, have safe sex.

There are parents with double standards-it's okay that the son has to sow his wild oats-yet they don't want any boy to do it with THEIR daughter. There are parents who think it's okay for boys to read magazines like Playboy or Hustler (knowing they didn't buy them to read the articles) but draw the line at pornography-or do they?

There are folks who think it is okay to watch "skin flicks" (pornographic movies) and watch men and women use and abuse each other sexually on film just for the gratification of the viewer. Where is THAT in the teachings of Jesus?

There is so much out there that will devour our attention, our minds, and our souls-especially the impressionable minds of children and youth. Don't you know the statistics? Don't you know about teen pregnancy, teen suicide, teen murder, teen drug use? Statistics about children abused by their parents physically or sexually? Don't you know the statistics? I'm not talking world-wide or nation-wide; not even state-wide. Don't you know the statistics for Carroll County and Taneytown? Maybe you don't WANT to know. But you SHOULD! Maybe you darn well ought to take the time to find out!

And how are we helping one another? What steps are we taking to prevent the world from devouring us, devouring adults and youth? Half measures avail us nothing-they are luke-warm-the sort of measures Jesus speaks about spewing out of his mouth. We have to get serious about using our God-given talents for the benefit of each other and for our community.

Why aren't grandmothers and grandfathers out on some sort of protest line taking a stand for the youth? Too many retired folks are resting on their so-called laurels, are opting out of action, but it never stops them from running off at the mouth with griping and complaining.

Too many parents are letting the world teach their children morality and ethics. Too many adults have let the world devour their own spirit and will and are willing to let that happen to the children and youth.

Well, we need to get those folks in here-in where they can hear the Truth-hear about how powerfully God has equipped them-hear how they are loved and supported. Evil can only flourish when good men and women sit by and do nothing.

It's not a matter of whether one is going to heaven or hell. It's a matter of living hell now. Life without having God as the center of your focus is so much less than it could be-and for some folks it's empty and hopeless, a living hell.

Come on, folks. Get your kids, your grandkids, your neighbors and their kids-get them, along with yourself, in here every week where they and you can learn about the power God has given you; learn about your God-given gifts; learn about forgiveness and love and compassion; learn how to develop your gifts and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that I mentioned earlier; learn how to develop and use them; learn how you are equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen each other and your family and friends and others in your community.

Let's not let the devil devour our gifts by us wasting them or letting them go unused. Don't let the devil devour folks in our midst who are burning out because you let them do more than their share-you let them do your share as well. You let your gifts be devoured by excuses and the hot air of your words as you try to justify letting your brothers and sisters in Christ in this congregation be devoured by doing YOUR work that Christ called YOU to do by leading you here to this place.

Even if your parents make you come; even if your spouse dragged you here; it is still the Holy Spirit who is bringing you here, giving you the opportunity to be the fullness of who God created you to be.


You are so incredibly blessed and yet some of you act like God owes you something instead of you owing everything to God.

For God's sake help each other. Save each other from being devoured Love not only your neighbor in this gathering, but in your community. That was also in today's lesson from Galatians. Care about each other. Care about who is here and who is NOT here. Step up and be counted. Don't let each other be devoured! Not in here; not out there.


Read more sermons by Pastor Brie