Galatians 6:1-10

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.

Understanding And Applying the Text

The first three rules of biblical interpretation are context, context, and context. Paul has just concluded chapter five talking about how the flesh and the Spirit are at war with each other. That is the context in which we must approach this passage. Paul’s reference to being caught in a transgression is a reference to physical sin. He is not talking about doctrinal faults. Remember the first part of the letter. There Paul talked about doctrinal issues of salvation. He was not gently restoring. He was forceful. He was anything but gentle. We, today, take the opposite position. We treat doctrinal error with gentleness. We are abrupt and forceful with moral failings.

Paul cautions us to be careful while restoring a fellow Christian. We can sin while doing so. In our attempt to be gentle, we can excuse or condone the sin. We can fall prey to its temptation. Restoring a fellow Christian with gentleness is not without pearl. But God commands us to do so nonetheless.

Paul returned to the commandment love your neighbor as yourself. At the beginning of the letter, Paul kept hammering the theme we are saved through faith and not through the law. In the last half of the letter 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 has a moral failing, we are to do more than give encouraging words. We are to aid them in bearing the burden. This is fulfilling the commandment to love them.

Paul claimed we are all in the same boat. We are sinners who need each other. We need a community to help us live as we ought. He said we should take a good look at ourselves. We are nothing special. If we think we are special, we are deceiving ourselves. This too is contrary to our societal beliefs. Turn on the television or radio or open a magazine or newspaper. When you do they bombard you. They say we are to have self-worth, self-fulfillment, and positive self-image esteem. It is all about the self. Self-esteem is only another way to say pride. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” Proverbs 16:18. Paul states the self, i.e. the flesh, is corrupt.

We compare ourselves to others. It is easy to find someone whose sinning we don’t commit. Or at least haven’t this week. We then conclude they are worse sinners than we are. If a person with one eye is with blind people he thinks he has perfect vision. God does not grade on a curve. Every individual will stand before God by himself. God will not compare him to others. God will compare him to a standard of complete and total righteousness. He will have to admit he does not meet the standard.

Before Paul concluded his letter he admonishes the Galatians to share and care for those who are teaching the truth to them. Paul has talked about loving our neighbor and bearing each other’s burdens. You would think he would not need to mention caring for those bringing the good news to them. But then, as now, we neglect our ministers. Several well-known preachers are getting rich from the 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 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. People are willing to support doctrines that bring death and deception. When Satan cannot suppress the Gospel by force, he attacks its ministers with poverty. He curtails their income to such an extent that they are forced out of the ministry.

But God is not mocked. Paul rebuked the Galatian’s excuses for not supporting those who teach the good news. And by extension he rebukes us. “Oh I can’t, I have a family to support.” “I can’t 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, we accuse him of greed.

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 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 wicked often prosper, while the just suffer. The application of good for the just and bad for the wicked is not a proper understanding.

We can arrive at a proper understanding by applying the 3 basic rules of interpretation. They are 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.

We have failed. And we will fail again. When our fellow Christians fail, we are to restore them gently. The question is not if, but when, they fail morally. The fact that we tend to be harsh with moral failing is due to our inclination to the law. We, who have been redeemed, are freed from the law. But we keep returning to the law like a dog returns to its vomit. Returning to the law allows 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, comfort him with the Gospel. You must deal with them 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, 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 love as He loved us.

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.

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