whytheology

For the Intersection of the Everyday and the Sacred

March 29 Reflection, Galatians 6:1-6

Galatians 6:1-6 KJV (NIV Link Below)

1Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

2Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

3For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

4But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

5For every man shall bear his own burden.

6Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

Link to NIV text

It’s about Community

After what seemed like some very harsh statements about the Judaizers, Paul tempers his previous statements by admitting that, if someone is caught in sin, they should gently be restored. While this may seem at odds with his earlier statements, the unifying theme is the love and community of the church. Paul wants the Galatians to treat each other like a family, and Judaizers were threatening to divide that family. In contrast, someone who is not being intentionally divisive, but is nevertheless in sin, should be brought back to into right relationship with community gently and cautiously. Ultimately, it is about bearing each other’s burdens. Christ command was that we would love one another as he loved us. Christ loved us by offering to be yoked alongside us. Therefore we are to be yoked together, to bear one another’s burdens.

The opposite of that is to be proud or self-righteous. The warning in verse 1 is as much a warning against self-importance as it is against falling into the sin of a brother or sister in Christ. We should restore the one who has fallen into sin because we too could just as easily fall into the same sin. Self-righteous pride, where we think we are better than someone else, has no place in the Christian Church.

By the same token, just as no one should ever neglect their brothers and sisters, neither should anyone neglect their own responsibility. Having someone else to carry your burden is not a right, it is a gift. As such, while it should be offered, it cannot be demanded. If it were, it would no longer be love, but duty and then it would fall back under the law of obligation. Instead, we are to offer what we have humbly, strive to be better, but ultimately rely upon the love of God that first made us into a family by His grace. In so doing, we exhibit the community of God: the Church.

What do you think? Is there a way to take pride in your work without thinking of yourself as better than anyone else? How often do we exhibit love by gently bringing someone back to right relationship within the church? How often do we simply push them further away from the community? What are some practical ways you can help bear someone else’s burden right now?

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