Live by the Spirit

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

Galatians 6:1-6

Love is at the very core of this paragraph.  No longer is Paul giving the Galatians “what for.” Now, he is telling them more about this life in the Spirit.  Notice that he begins addressing what should be done if someone sins; they should be restored gently.  How this contrasts with the impulse of some to finish the person off with condemnation and abuse!  He also mentioned that we should be careful in doing this, lest we too should fall into sin; I think it is interesting that Paul dropped that in where he did.  Consider the picture of the one who is helping his brother or sister back into line.  I suppose it might be human nature, but how easy it would be to adopt an air of superiority when working with one who had stumbled, when we ourselves might not have fallen into the trap; maybe that is the kind of temptation Paul had in mind.

The next sentence is a great one, too:  “Carry each other’s burdens…” sounds to me like the opposite of “not getting involved.” Help each other out in any circumstance that arises is Paul’s loving message here. Then he follows up with another injunction that if we think we are something we’re not, we’re self-deceived.  It strikes me how important it is to keep in mind who and what we are in Christ, rather than letting ourselves get carried away with our own good deeds, our own righteousness and our own importance.  No, we are Christ’s humble servants who rejoice in putting the other person ahead of ourselves; we are His disciples who love our brothers and sisters in the Lord.  That’s it. Any glory this might generate is the sole property of God.

Paul says that we should also test our own actions to ensure that we remain on the right path, that we should avoid making comparisons with others.  I think this might be his advice for two reasons.  First, so that we avoid the temptation to think we are better than someone else, and second, to avoid our thinking that we are less than someone else− there is no favoritism in Christ! Of course, if there is no favoritism in Christ, it would also be correct to say that there is also no free lunch; we can carry our own loads, which I think is to say that we can all serve Him to the best of our abilities.

Finally, Paul has a rather cryptic comment: Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.  What an odd thing to say right there! After saying we all should carry our own loads, he throws in “nevertheless” and talks about sharing “all good things” with our instructor if we receive instruction in the Word.  I guess you might be able to come to more than one opinion about what he is talking about here, but my take is that Paul is reminding the people that the elder who also teaches is to receive “double honor,” which is to say that they should be paid. Yes, believe it or not, that is the general view of most scholars on this verse.  I have spent almost 20 years as an elder who did the teaching, sometimes exclusively.  I never received a dime, but there was also a ministerial staff that cited this as reason they were paid…

Happily, I’m OK with carrying my own load!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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5 Responses to Live by the Spirit

  1. Galatians 6 is my favorite Scriptures to exhort whenever there is a need to strengthen accountability. Great insights!

  2. vw1212 says:

    I am thinking this is where the double entendre comes in: earthly work with heavenly blessings; my God, I bet your spiritual blessings are far more than the ordinary person can claim. Continue heaping up riches in glory; your crown probably is larger than your head can accommodate…:) vw

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