Restoring, bearing and boasting, only in the cross
Galatians 6 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one will bear his own load.
6 The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 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. 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
11 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.
Paul begins today’s text saying: Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Once again we need to understand that Paul is writing to the church, believers, brethren. He says that when someone is caught in sin, those who are spiritual should restore that person. So there is an acknowledgement that there will be sin within the church. Paul says “if”, so he is not condoning sin or justifying sin, he is simply acknowledging that there will be sin. Those who are spiritual should seek to restore the one who has fallen, in gentleness. Earlier in his letter to the Galatian church, in Galatians 5:22-23, Paul said: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. So those who are spiritual should walk in and exercise those fruits in their life. It is a sign of spiritual maturity, that we would seek to restore and not reject or condemn a fellow believer who has fallen.
There is though also a personal benefit to us when we seek to restore rather than condemn. Paul says: each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Jesus says: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” James 1:14-15 says: each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Each one of us is tempted. Just because I may not be tempted in the same way as another believer, does not mean I should condemn them. I am tempted by my own lust. If I judge my brother who falls to his temptation, then I too will be judged, with the same standard, if I fall to temptation. We are though, to seek to restore others. Jesus gave instruction on dealing with sin within the church in Matthew 18:15-17, He says: “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” In order for there to be restoration, both to the church and to all that the believer is promised in Christ, there must be an acknowledgement of and repentance from sin. It is only the cross of Christ that can restore. It is there, to the cross, that we must lead those who have fallen, there where they can see again the pain and anguish with which Jesus paid for their sin. There, at the cross, they can hear Jesus words: “Father forgive them…” There through the finished work of the cross, they can be restored.
Paul continues saying: 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 himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load. As fellow believers we are to bear one another’s burdens. We are to pray for and with others. We are to walk with them through difficult times. It is important though for both their sake and ours that we understand how we are to bear burdens and that as Paul says, each one will bear his own load. The load that each one must bear, includes all the things that are part of their life, both the consequences of previous sin, present circumstances and even things like their physical health, handicaps or difficulties. We cannot bear those things for others. We can come along side of them, praying for them and helping them. But take for example the difficult load that a single mother faces, while we can support her and help her with some of her difficulties, she alone must bear that load, no one can do it for her. As we do help others, bearing and sharing their burdens, we should learn the lesson of Simon of Cyrene. In Mark 15:20-24, when Jesus was crucified, it says: And they led Him out to crucify Him. They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene to bear His cross. Then they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull... And they crucified Him. Jesus was so physically beaten and exhausted that He couldn’t bear the weight, the burden of His cross. Simon carried the cross for Him. But Simon could not bear the load of the cross. Only Jesus could do that. When they reached Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified, Simon had to lay the burden down and give it to Jesus. In the same way, when we bear the burdens of others, whether in prayer and intercession or in works of helps, we must remember that we cannot bear the load. We cannot continue to carry it. We need to take those burdens and carry them to the cross, there we need to lay them down. Only Jesus can bear the load of the cross. When He was on the cross, Jesus said: “It is finished” (John 19:30) The cross of Christ is the finished work for every need, for every burden and every load that we have. We must take our loads and burdens there, to the cross and lay them down.
Paul says: 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 the faith… 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. In all that we say and all that we do, we should do it according to the Spirit, with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, so that we will reap according to that same Spirit. Whether we are spiritually restoring another, whether we are bearing and sharing the burdens of another or we are carrying our own load, may we, like Paul always remember that it is only in the finished work of the cross that any and all of these things are accomplished. May that be our boast.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.