If you’ve ever sent your son or daughter off to
college (or the military) you know that your farewell words consist
of a series of proverbs and warnings intended to convey your love.
Paul has a similar set here.
Bear each other’s burdens
Gal 6:1-6 NASB Brethren, even if
anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore
such a one in a spirit of gentleness;
looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives
But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have
boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.
For each one will bear his own load.
The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the
one who teaches
We must always remember that our attitude towards
another Christian’s sin is that of restoration. In the original, the
word translated “caught” is also translated as “overtaken.” It’s the
picture of someone who couldn’t run fast enough to get away from
sin, so it caught him from behind. Ever had that feeling?
Here’s one of the great beauties of the church.
Those who are spiritual Christians are to restore such a sinner.
It’s as if no judgment is needed; we all know it’s sin. Nor do we
need condemnation, for we know it is wrong. We need help in getting
rid of the sin.
And those who do the restoring are cautioned:
· They are to do so in meekness
(often translated gentleness), not with arrogance or
· While they are doing it, they
are to looking out for temptation themselves.
Doctors conduct surgery with rubber gloves as a
barrier against infection. So the spiritual are to be careful of
We are told to bear one another’s burdens (verse
2). There’s a good reason for this; you might be well able to assist
me in my imperfections. Alone, each of us will be overpowered with
those temptations to which we are most susceptible. But where I am
weak you may be strong – and together we may triumph in Christ’s
Bear your own load
In another sense, however, we are to bear our own
load. Paul seems to contradict himself here. But the distinction is
clear when you start at verse 3. It is the arrogant Paul warns. How,
then, does one avoid this arrogance? The essence of the matter is
· First, we are to examine
ourselves. Are we really as good as we think we are? (A
particular burden to those who are praised for their
· Interestingly, we are then to
take credit for what is genuinely our accomplishment.
Humility is not a low opinion of yourself; it’s an honest
Such self-examination and honesty also convicts
us of the spiritual tasks given to us.
Teacher and student
Paul now makes a short statement about students
and teachers. To understand this remark, we need to examine the
culture and technology of the day:
· Books were hand copied – and
therefore expensive. A man who sought to be a teacher could
therefore expect to be handed a financial burden.
· Our modern series of
concordances, topical Bibles, etc. did not exist. Consider
that Nave’s Topical Bible, a standard work of scholarship,
took fourteen years to create – and was not truly attempted
before the late 19th century. In those days, your
memory was everything.
In addition, writing out a
lesson was a tedious, hand writing process. The keyboard
is mightier than the crayon.
So it is no surprise, then, that the
Scripture makes it clear that those who preach the Gospel
are to be supported by the church. Here, the point is
extended somewhat to say “all good things.” The support of a
teacher evidently is a bit more complicated than that of the
full time preacher. But it is the joy of the teacher to
share “all good things.” (Have you seen my granddaughter’s
Expectations and Results
Gal 6:7-10 NASB Do not be
deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this
he will also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh
reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will
from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will
reap if we do not grow weary.
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all
people, and especially to those who are of the household of
Reap what you sow
Actions have consequences. Even when you
think that “it wouldn’t harm anyone,” the consequences are
still there – and all the more so if we try to wish them
away. One such set of consequences is for the teacher – his
students’ definition of “good things” depends very much on
his teaching. If your teaching is pointed at the things of
this world, that’s what you get. For what it’s worth.
But if your teaching is aimed at things
of the Spirit – you get (both for you and your students) the
reward of eternal life. Which is why teachers know first and
foremost to teach Christ, and Him crucified.
The effects of time
So why is it that we’re not simply awash in
good things? Paul tells you – don’t lose heart, it comes in
God’s own good time. It’s a point of character that you have
patience to wait for the Lord.
Sometimes that wait might be until you
reach heaven’s shores. Consider, for a moment, the ancient
practice of almsgiving. In Paul’s world there were beggars
at every intersection, pleading for money. The early church
considered it a privilege to be able to help such a man,
knowing full well this laid up treasure in heaven. Our
shorter patience wants results a lot more quickly than that.
Almsgiving? Consider it as an opportunity
to do Christ’s will. Ask yourself:
· “Do I have the money now? Why,
then, would I not give it?”
· “Do I see the need now? Why,
then, would I not meet it?”
Your gift is not so much to the beggar as
to your Lord. Let Him worry about the frauds; take care of
the treasure in heaven.
A side note: it is clear in the
Scriptures that the first claim on such giving is within
your family; then those in the church, and finally those in
Life in the flesh
Gal 6:11-18 NASB See with what large
letters I am writing to you with my own hand. (12) Those who
desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to
be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for
the cross of Christ. (13) For those who are circumcised do not
even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you
circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. (14) But may
it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord
Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world. (15) For neither is circumcision anything,
nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. (16) And those who will
walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the
Israel of God. (17) From now on let no one cause trouble for me,
for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. (18) The grace
of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.
Sometimes our giving is not money, nor even
time – but suffering. Paul, many scholars believe, suffered from
cataracts, a condition which had no cure in his day. His readers
knew this, so when they saw that he had written part (or all,
we’re not sure) of this letter himself, they undoubtedly
Boasting in the flesh
Some of us, however, suffer far too
· “Look how many people are doing
it my way, despite the pain and suffering it causes.
There’s your motivation; I’m leading the way even in
the prospect of pain.
· This, of course, inflates the
ego wonderfully. Worse, it inflates the egos of both
the teacher and the student – so everybody “wins.”
· Worse, this carries no positive
effect. It is all for nothing.
In the Cross of Christ I glory
When Paul says that, we know that this is
the subject in which he’s an A student. He expresses it to
us in comparing the old creation to the new creation in
· The old creation – with its
laws and emphasis on outer things – is now useless
since the new creation has begun.
· How did this come about? At the
So then we are to live in the new
creation – and if we do, the result is that we experience
peace and mercy. There is a pang of compassion in that
statement; despite the flap over circumcision he still wants
this peace and mercy for the nation of Israel. They are his
brothers; he cares for his family, so to speak.
Paul has suffered bodily for the cause of
Christ – and on many occasions. We award soldiers a Purple Heart
if they are wounded in combat; Paul’s scars are his medal of
suffering. They are a powerful sight.
An old story – I cannot find confirmation
that it is true – concerns a missionary jailed and beaten
for crime of preaching Christ. While in prison his body
received many visible scars. At the end of his sentence, the
ruler asked him what he was going to do now. He replied by
asking permission to go back to the villages he was
preaching in. The ruler absolutely refused: “My people are
not such fools as to believe your stories, but they will be
convinced by your scars.”
In all things, grace. Even in conflict
inside the church, let grace abound.