Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.
Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he 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. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
- We should restore those who are caught in transgression.
- We should restore transgressors with gentleness.
- While we are helping to restore one who has transgressed we should be careful that we do not transgress.
- We should bear each other’s burdens
- In bearing each other’s burden we fulfill the law of Christ.
- If we think highly of ourselves, and we are not, we deceive ourselves.
- We should test our own work.
- We should test our own work to think rightly of ourselves.
- We are to test our own work and not another’s work.
- Testing our own work will cause use to boast in what we have done rather than in comparison to someone else.
- When we test our own load and boast in what we have done we have to bear our own load rather having our burden shared with our neighbor.
- We, who are taught, need to share with our teachers all the good things in our life.
- God is not mocked.
- If we act out of the flesh we will receive fleshly thing. Fleshly things are corruption.
- If we act by the Spirit we will receive spiritual things which are eternal life.
- We are not to tire of doing good.
- We will receive the rewards for doing good in due time
- We are not to give up.
- The fact that we will receive a reward for doing good.
- Our opportunity is to do good to everyone.
- We should especially do good to fellow believers.
The first three rules of biblical interpretation are context, context, and context. Paul has just concluded chapter five talking about the how the flesh and the Spirit are at war with each other. That is the context of we must approach this passage. When Paul talks about anyone being caught in transgression, he is referring to a transgression in the flesh he is not talking about doctrinal faults. Remember back to the first part of the letter, when Paul was talking about doctrinal issues of salvation. He was not gently restoring. He was rather forceful, anything but gentle. We, today, take exactly the opposite position to the Apostle. We treat doctrinal error gently and are abrupt and forceful when we encounter people in moral failings.
The Apostle Paul however cautions us to be careful while restoring a fellow Christian. We can commit sin while doing so. In our attempt to be gentle we can excuse or condone the sin, or we can fall prey to its temptation. Restoring a fellow Christian with gentleness is not without pearl but we are commanded to do so nonetheless.
Paul returns to the commandment love your neighbor as yourself. Just as in the first part of the book where Paul kept hammering the theme we are saved through faith and not through the law. The last half of the book he keeps repeating the commandment, love your neighbor as yourself. Here is another pass at the same theme. We are to bear each other’s burdens. When a fellow Christian fails morally we are to do more than give them encouraging words. We are to aid them in bearing the burden. This is filling the commandment to love them.
Paul now proves we are all in the same boat; we are sinners who need each other, a community to help us live as we ought. He tells us to take a good look at ourselves. We are nothing special. If we think we are special, we are completely deceiving ourselves. This too is contrary to our societal beliefs. Turn on the television or radio, open a magazine or newspaper and you will be bombarded with the idea of self-worth, self-fulfillment, having good self-esteem. It is all about the self. Self-esteem is simply another way to say pride. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” Proverbs 16:18. Paul clearly states the self, i.e. the flesh, is corrupt.
We continually compare ourselves to others. It is easy to find someone who is committing a sin we are not and then conclude they are a worse sinner than we are. If a person with one eye is placed with the blind he thinks he has perfect vision. God does not grade on a curve. Before God every individual will stand by himself and for himself without being compared to others and give an account for their life.
Just before Paul concludes his letter he admonishes the Galatians to share and care for those who are teaching the truth to them. Paul has just talked about loving our neighbor and bearing each other’s burdens you would think he would not need to mention caring for those who are bringing the good news to them. But then, as now, we neglect our ministers. There are several well-known preachers who are getting rich from gifts of the people. But even a cursory analysis of what they are teaching reveals they are not bringing good news. They are teaching the law. They are teaching adherence to the flesh. While those who are bring the good news live in poverty.
This appears to be a by-product of the Gospel. When the doctrine of grace is preached people are negligent in their support of the Gospel. When the doctrines of Satan, which bring death, are preached, people willing support those who deceive them. When Satan cannot suppress the preaching of the Gospel by force he attacks the ministers of the Gospel with poverty. He curtails their income to such an extent that they are forced out of the ministry.
But God is not mocked. This is a rebuke of the dishonest excuses we give for our failure to support those who teach us and bring us the good news. “Oh I can’t, I have a family to support.” “I can afford it.” “You don’t understand how tight money is right now.” We may deceive others. We may even deceive ourselves. But God knows. We have a commandment to support those who teach us the scriptures. If a minister preaches on money, he is accused of greed. Still people must be told so they can know they have a duty toward their pastors.
Verse 8 has often been paraphrased to, “You reap what you sow.” It is also often misapplied to mean, “If you do good things, good things will happen to you. If you do bad things bad things will happen to you.” This application is obviously false. David cried, “For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalms 73:3) We see the same thing today, the wick often prosper, while the just suffer. So the application of good for the just and bad for the wicked is not a proper understanding.
The proper understanding can be arrived at by applying our 3 basic rules of biblical interpretation, context, context and context. Paul is talking about supporting the ministry of the Gospel and those who teach the Gospel. If we sow in the flesh, i.e. support earthly things we reap corruption because the flesh is corrupt. If we so in the Spirit, i.e. support spiritual things, we reap life and truth because the Spirit is life and truth.
Let us not tire of doing what is good. Growing a crop requires patience. A seed is not planted one day and harvested the next day. Do what is good to everyone, but especially to our fellow believers and teachers of the Scripture.
Let us recognize that we have and will fail. When our fellow Christians fail, let us restore them gently when, not if, but when, they fail morally. The fact that we have a tendency to be harsh with moral failing is due to our inclination to the law. Realize we, who have been redeemed, are freed from the law. But we keep returning to the law like a dog returns to it vomit. Returning to the law allow us to misuse it. Rather than using it to condemn ourselves, we use it to condemn others by pointing out their sins.
If you see a brother despondent over a sin he has committed, run up to him, reach out to him, comfort him with the Gospel, not the law, and embrace him. You must deal with that person with meekness. St. Augustine said: “There is no sin which one person has committed, that another person may not commit it also.”
So often rather than aiding when we see someone who has fallen, we keep our distance. The reason we give is, “I don’t want anyone to think I condone such behavior. Associating with him would ruin my witness.” We are so concerned about what others think, we fail to keep the commandment to love as He loved us.
Even if we do not outwardly say so, we often feel a sense of superiority over someone who has failed and fallen into a moral sin. The only way to suppress this pride is through prayer. Only the Holy Spirit can preserve us from the sin of pride.