Read Galatians 6:1-10
1Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5for each one should carry his own load.
6Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (NIV)
Paul is near the end of his letter. He shifts to talking about how we bear burdens. The word Paul uses for sin in verse 1 is not the normal word for sin, but the Greek word, “paraptoma” which means to slip such as slipping on ice or rugged path. The slip is not intentional, but happens just the same. The idea is that no matter how perfect or good we try to be, we are going to slip up. That is who we are. And it is the responsibility of other believers to help the one who slipped up.
Too often, it is easy to judge those who slip up rather than help them get back on their feet. This is been seen in churches down through the ages and even today. This is why Paul I believe stresses that we are to carry each other’s burdens. It one slips, it is a slip of the whole and it is the responsibility of the whole to bring things back into order, not by punishment, but by healing and restoration. This is the law of Christ.
Paul then moves into how we should not be comparing our actions to others – to think better of ourselves. Paul says the true measure is not against what others have or haven’t done, but against our own selves. How does what we did compare to what we are capable of doing. Did we short change the action or did we give it all we had. This is the true test of are actions – against our own potential. Paul then reminds the people that even though we are to bear other’s burdens, we should still carry our own load. This is a reminder that God calls each of us to a task and we cannot dismiss that task. The word for load is the word used for a soldier’s backpack. There are things God calls us to do and we need to do those things to complete the Christian community.
Paul then moves to remind the people to treat those who teach the truth with pay. It is a practical matter to sustain the teachers and preachers. He does not spend much time in this thought and quickly moves to the next.
The then concludes this part of the letter by reminding people that we get back what we put our efforts into. We reap what we sow. Are we sowing the natural human nature or are we sowing the Spiritual nature? Each of us must constantly look at our own actions and the motivations behind those actions. And he concludes with reminding the people that doing good can at times become wearisome. This is our human nature fighting against us. But we should not give up doing good. John Wesley stated in his second rule that we should do all the good we can to all we can as much as we can. The opportunities are always there and are we responding with what we have been blessed and gifted with. Again, this section speaks to how believers in a community respond to one another.
The question for us is how often to we measure things against our own potential? We cannot do everything, not help everyone, but are we doing what we can? Sometimes the need can be so great that we don’t do anything because we don’t know where to start. What God tells us is to do what we can with what we have been given and He will take it from there. What does it mean to you to share one another’s burdens in these crazy times? There is much in this passage to reflect on.
Questions and Comments?