Over the past couple of years I have begun to journal my Bible time. Literally, I learn so much more deeply if I re-write, in my own words, what the verses are saying. So for this post I am going to change my format somewhat. I’m going copy and paste, a few verses at a time, and then share my thoughts. My personal study Bibles are the New American Standard (NAS), English Standard Version (ESV), and the Amplified. I use them all, and I frequent blueletterbible.org which hosts commentaries and shares the original language for deeper understanding. I also consult the IVP Bible Background Commentary. For this post I will be pasting in verses from the ESV.
I wrestled some with chapter 6. I found that not even the commentaries agree on Paul’s meaning in some verse 6. I hope you’ll take time to read and pray through these verses yourself, listening to what God might reveal to you.
This is going to be long, so if you just want to read the prayer application, feel free to scroll toward the bottom.
vs. 1a– Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.
People who are living in sin may long to change, but pride will often prevent them from taking those first steps. It’s sort of natural to push back against anyone who points out our faults. Paul says that if anyone is caught in sin’s trap that we should “restore him” or help him escape that trap, but do so gently. Gentleness is such an important ingredient for shepherding another’s heart. Surely Paul has set an example of restoring in gentleness throughout this letter to the church in Galatia.
1b–Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
None of us are without sin. It can be tempting to finger point and condemn/blame (which would be wrong!). Paul urges us to guard our own hearts against sin.
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test (scrutinize) his own work (deeds), and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.5 For each will have to bear his own load.
My mind kind of does a loop-d-loop on these verses, but lets see if this makes sense…
We are told to bear one another’s burdens. This “burdens” in the Greek is baros and means heaviness, weight or trouble. Sin is a terrible burden. I think of the man Simon who was forced by the Roman soldiers to help Jesus Christ to carry the burden of His cross to Calvary. This same cross was the instrument used in order for Christ to take our burden–the punishment for our sin–and in exchange He gave us His burden, but Jesus’s burden is better. In Matthew 11:30, Jesus said His yoke is easy (good, pleasant, kind) and his burden is light.
Paul says that each will have to bear his own load. Christ’s burden (phortion), the one he gives us, is our load. It is the same Greek word which speaks of an obligation we have to him. We are each to steward our own calling. Regardless of our “position” in the body of Christ or what gifts and talents God has administered for us to uniquely carry out our calling, our call is basically the same… love God and love others. The law of Christ, which we are called to fulfill, is love.
It’s by God’s free grace that we’re forgiven. Our own efforts gain us nothing. When a brother or sister in Christ falls back into the trap of sin (intentional/habitual sin), and we help restore them to a right relationship with Jesus, we are like Simon. We help them carry that burden back to Calvary and hand it back to Jesus. In doing so we are lifting them up and loving them.
6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.
I have always heard verse 6 used to uphold the idea of generous financial support of our pastors, missions, and teachers. The Bible Background Commentary says that “Many teachers charged fees for their instruction; many Greek teachers insisted that they and their students should share all things in common, and some groups of teachers and disciples lived communally. In Asia Minor (including Galatia), a fee was exacted from those entering temples. Here Paul urges the Galatian Christians to support their teachers who could provide sound teaching (unlike that of his opponents).”
This same commentary suggests that sowing and reaping could be continuing a monetary image, but can I just say, “I don’t know!”? Honestly, it would be a little weird for verse 6 to pop in there, talking about money, when everything before it was talking about love and restoration. Also the verses after verse 6 seem to continue the same train of thought as those before. Would it make sense that the person who restores will be doing some teaching in the process of leading a wayward brother back to the fold? It is often our elders and pastors who are instruments to restore brothers and sisters in the church.
Sooo, for my own application: Let the one who is taught the word (logos) share (be partaker; communicate; distribute) all good things with the one who teaches. Oh, goodness. God’s Word is good. It is true, and if someone will teach me truth from God’s word, I want to embrace that truth. I want to share in it, and be a partaker in it with the one who teaches me. I’m going to show my gratitude to them, and do good to them. Not only that, but I’m going to partner with them in distributing that truth to others! I’m going to share it myself, and if the teacher is a full time minister, I may contribute to their support.
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he 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 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
When I go back to the first five verses of this chapter, it makes sense to me that this is a logical continuation, and it is also a summary of the whole letter.
The purpose of Paul’s letter (ch. 1) was to restore the Galatians to the grace of the gospel, and he is teaching them that each of us has this same responsibility to hold one another accountable.
Paul explained the importance of keeping in step with the Spirit (ch. 5) and reflecting Christ’s character (Fruit of the Spirit) instead of “feeding” our fleshly desires. Reaping what we sow is a natural law of consequences. So verses 8 and 9 of chapter 6 are reviewing this… if we don’t give up we will have spiritual fruit which is eternal.
vs. 10– Paul says to do good to everyone, but especially to other believers… Jesus told his disciples to love one another as he had loved them. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
How are we doing with this law of love?
11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.
In some letters, someone else will write for Paul, but Paul is writing for himself.
12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.
I once sat in a Bible study with women who shared about how difficult it was to be the only Christians at work. “Do we need to stand out?” was a question they asked. While they didn’t want to do wrong, they didn’t necessarily want to go out of their way to do right… they just wanted to blend in to avoid being singled out. Paul said some of Judiazers were kinda like this. They avoided persecution at all cost, but their doctrine also strayed from the truth.
14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
Nothing we do or don’t do can make us righteous. It’s not about me, it’s about Jesus and what He did. When I trust in Him to take my burden of sin, He gives me a new, perfect heart. Jesus’s sacrifice gives us peace with God and He shows us mercy (does not give us the punishment we deserve). We can’t fake God out. He knows our hearts!
17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
Paul had been persecuted for what he believed. He was going to tell the truth, regardless.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
Grace~being given what we have not earned. Thank you, Jesus.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15
How can I use these observations to pray according to God’s will?
vs 1– Pray for faithful hearts! Pray that God will guard our hearts against sin, that we will all be tender to receive instruction, and be quick to repent!
vs 2–Pray for hearts that are compassionate toward others, and for wisdom to restore our brothers and sisters in Christ when the need arises.
vs 9–Pray that we will not grow weary in doing good, and that God will bring about a harvest of righteousness in our lives. We want to bear good fruit!!
vs 10–Ask God to give us deeper love for others in the church, and that He will show us ways to do good to one another.
vs 12-15–Pray that God will make our faith authentic, and that we will always remember our complete dependence on Him so that we do not try to run ahead of Him.
vs 16-18–Praise Jesus. Do you know that is God’s will?? Our God inhabits the praises of his people. Thank Him for taking your burden which is heavy in exchange for His, which is light. Give Him praise for the ways He loves you–for His grace, His peace, His mercy… so many ways!
Pray for those in your sphere of influence who need to repent and trust in Jesus.
We did it! We completed our study of Galations. 🙂 I am not sure I am going to continue this format, but I am going to keep sharing. I have studied so many amazing things in the past few months and my heart runs over. God bless you in this coming week. Thank you for joining me.