Devotional # 94. 7/7/14. Galatians 6.
Intro. Last week we dug down into the fruit of the Spirit and what that means to the Christian. How “love” is truly the “fruit of the Spirit” because all other spiritual things come from love. Today we’ll see how we put love into practice. Pay attention if you want to know how to handle your problems and help other believers through their issues.
v. 1. The first thing we notice is Paul identifies the people he is talking to as “brethren“, which are his spiritual brothers and sisters. So he loves them and shares a kinship with them, what he is saying is for their benefit not to hurt their feelings. He is telling Christians how to help other Christians. We know this because Paul says for the “spiritual” person (i.e. a Christian) to “restore such a one” (i.e. another Christian). Also the Bible never tells a Christian to exhort a non-Christian to not sin. A non-Christian can’t stop sinning until they accept Jesus. But we take note because if we are a Christian then we have a responsibility to help other Christians get through a tough time. It doesn’t say whether the person has recognized that they’re sinning or not. Sometimes we have to approach a brother or sister about their sin, not judgmentally but in love. Other times a brother or sister will come to us about their issue. MacDonald notes that “overtaken in any trespass” means surprised in a sin; so basically it’s not habitual sin (Source 1, p. 55). Remember when we talked about a specific sin habit in Galatians 5:19-21, Devotional 92? So if a Christian is struggling with sin (i.e. “trespass“) we are to deal with the situation gently, since we could just as easily fall into the same sin. But why should we do this? The next section will tell us.
vv. 2-5. We should lovingly “bear one another’s burdens” because then we are fulfilling the “law of Christ.” First, what is bearing a burden? Think of a heavy backpack. A true friend will help you with the weight in the bag. So, spiritually, when a Christian has a burden such as “failures, temptations, testing and trials…instead of standing off at a distance and criticizing, we should fly to the side of a brother in trouble or distress and help him in every possible way” (Source 1, p. 56). Second, what is this “law of Christ”? I thought Jesus gave us freedom. His “law” is for us to love each other as He has loved us. His measuring tape of love is eternal in length. He suffered for us, so we should be willing to suffer for our Church family. Let me be clear regarding the context: we should be willing to suffer and sacrifice our time or money or resources, if it benefits a believer.
We are reminded that humility is the top characteristic of a helpful Christian. The immature believer or carnal Christian will think they have been through some tough times and read the Bible so they have all the answers and are the best qualified to be God’s spokesperson to help others. But when they realize that, as Lamentations 3:26-27 says, “it is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man [or woman] to bear the yoke in his [or her] youth“; it is the humble who are used by God. Here in Galatians some might take verses 4-5 out of context: that the individual must “examine his own work” and “bear his own load” in a self-righteous, lone wolf way. This might lead to two things: a person might feel that self-examination is all that’s required and/or an overwhelming feeling of loneliness. These verses in context show that a person needs to be self-aware with humility (remember that was mentioned first) and realize they should worry about themselves being spiritually right with God before they try and solve other people’s problems.
v. 6. Paul is saying that the pupil (the person who is being helped) should be given all good things by the teacher (the one who is giving the help). Notice that the teacher is teaching “the word“. So it should never be an opinion or “my pastor says” or a self-help book that is used as wisdom to help the believer through the sin; instead it is the word! It is the foundation that we stand on – the Bible: God’s word.
vv. 7-10. There is a lot in this section but the main theme is to live a godly life which blesses other Christians. Although it’s true in a general sense that “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” remember the context is “an exhortation on Christian giving” (Source 1, p. 57).
Recently I have thought a lot about not giving up on the Christian life (“let us not grow weary while doing good“) because it can be tough. If God is training us and our servitude to Jesus threatens the devil then we will have a difficult life. But the promise is that in God’s timing (“due season“) we will be rewarded for perseverance (“we shall reap if we do not lose heart“). We must “do good” to everyone but especially to our brothers and sisters in the Church (beautifully put as “the household of faith“). It’s always important to remember that regardless of denominations or divisions we are all part of the family of God so “our kindness is not to be limited to believers, but is to be shown to them in a special way” (Source 1, p. 57).
vv. 11-15. I love verse 11! Paul couldn’t type in all caps or bold his font so he wrote in big letters. Also some of the letters Paul wrote would actually be dictated by him to a secretary. So what was important enough for him to note that he had grabbed the “pen” and written in big letters? It was the things just written in verses 7-10 and now he’ll elaborate. As he closes the letter he brings the reader’s attention back to the focus of the start of the book: that the Galatians shouldn’t allow false teachers to push them into adding requirements to faith in Christ. Those false teachers want to boast in keeping the law (like circumcision) but they don’t even keep the law themselves. Paul says not even he boasts in anything except the sacrifice of cross of Christ. You see Paul didn’t do anything on his own but he accepts the cross. When it says “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” it means that in Jesus’ reality baptism or no baptism, small church or big church, we must be a new creation. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul explains, “Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence” (God’s Word Translation).
vv. 16-18. So any Christian following these things will receive mercy. Paul wraps up by basically saying ‘please don’t question whether I speak for Jesus because I have literal scars on my body having been persecuted for Him.’
Conclusion. Paul finishes the chapter, and the book to the Galatians with many things that apply to us still. Don’t let false teachers add things to Jesus’ free gift of salvation, love others with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, bear and share each other’s burdens and know that if we suffer persecutions for Jesus we will be rewarded in heaven, not boasting in anything but Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins.
Source 1: William MacDonald, The Letter to the Galatians, 2007.