Submitted by Jan on Tue, 25/06/2013 – 13:59
Year C (2012-2013)
Bible Book: Galatians / Galasiers
“The words you speak become the house you live in”. These are the words of the poet popularly known as Hafiz. He was born Shamseddin Mohammad around 1325 AD and wrote prolifically until his death at the age of 69.
Galatians 5 lists the fruit of the Spirit, which is the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us. These virtues will grow in us as we increasingly know, love and imitate Christ. Paul also warned the church members in southern Galatia against falling prey to the sinful nature of man, as this would prevent them from inheriting the kingdom of God.
I was recently struck by the effects of one of the acts of our sinful nature – lying. I was conducting a training event for the organization I work with, and one of our sessions covered HIV. I used the Channels of Hope slides, and found an overwhelmingly positive response from the participants. “We can talk to the children about HIV easily now!”, “Why don’t they talk to us like this at the clinics?”, “Hearing about HIV like this gives us hope!” .
As my heart sank, I realized that many medical practitioners in our clinics are in effect lying to people who are affected by HIV, by filling them with fear and a fabrication of the truth. The training participants talked about how they had been told that they were going to die once they tested positive and none of them seemed to have understood the distinction between the stages of HIV and the final stage of AIDS, and that they could live a long life with antiretroviral therapy with a chronic but manageable disease.
Paul begins his letter to the Galatians with the words “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (v. 1). Later in v. 13 he again states “do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love”.
We need to speak the truth in love, giving accurate medical facts about HIV, but also giving those living with HIV a sense of hope and an assurance that with careful management and treatment, their lives can be full and long. Those in the medical profession in particular, who are in daily contact with people who may hang on their every word, need to ensure that they speak with compassion and hope, so that the words that they speak will become the loving, compassionate house that we can all feel comfortable to live in.
Each one of us, however, must also look deeply into our own hearts and see where we have indulged our sinful nature and not spoken in truth. Let us all guard our words and let us all speak only words that will become a loving house that we will want to live in.
To think about: In what small ways can you change your words to ensure that you are speaking a loving house for all to live in?
Written by: Janine Ward (Co-CEO, Jewels of Hope) ‘Churches, Channel of Hope’ Facilitator
Author: Ward J (Ms)