GALATIANS 6:1-5: “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.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: Is the call to grow in Christ a “solo” journey? Are we expected to deal with our sin and brokenness on our own? Do we give a new believer a Bible and say – “Ok, now you are on your own!”? The answer is obvious, but our reality does not always match the answer. We know that we are called into a family of faith and that we are to love and serve one another. Yet, when it comes to sin we tend to hide it and try to deal with it ourselves. This is not only the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches, it is also extremely counterproductive and harmful.
Paul exhorts the Galatians – “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” We are our brother’s and sister’s keeper. Ultimately, we are all responsible for our own actions and decisions, but we also all have a responsibility to help our brother and sister grow in grace. We not only need to help them – we also need their help in our own lives. We all have “blind spots” in our lives. These are areas that we do not see, or do not have the perspective to correct – without the counsel and help of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Bearing one another’s burdens is more than simply comforting someone during a trial. Bearing one another’s burdens is accompanying them on the road of overcoming sin in their life.
Paul gives us some helpful guidelines in this process. We are to “keep watch”, lest we are also tempted. Wisdom is needed here. If we are overcoming a personal weakness in our lives, we need to be careful when trying to help someone else dealing with that same weakness. If someone is drowning, it is best not to send in someone to the rescue that does not know how to swim. The outcome could be two people drowning, rather than two people saved. Wisdom and godly counsel is needed. This is why we are placed in a family of faith. The more mature can help the weak. Where we are strong we can reach out to the one who is struggling. It is best not to jump into the water prematurely!
Paul also advises us to have an honest opinion about our position in Christ. None of us has arrived! He says – “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Whenever we think that “we” have something to offer, we are setting ourselves up for a fall. We do not have “something” to offer – we have “SOMEONE” to offer. The only victory in our lives, and the only victory for the life of the brother or sister who is struggling, is Jesus Christ Himself. We stand by Grace through Faith in all that we do. Our position in Christ is never earned. It is only realized and it only grows as we keep our eyes upon Jesus and our heart surrendered to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, we are all personally responsible for our own lives and decisions. I am called to help my brother and sister grow in Christ and become an overcomer. However, I cannot make their choices for them. I am not responsible for their choices – only for my willingness to serve and help them. I am responsible for my choices. Paul says – “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.” I must never become so preoccupied with helping others that I neglect my own personal walk of faith. I must continually test my own work (life), and I must be willing to receive help from others in the process of my personal spiritual growth. We will each have to give account for our own lives before the Lord. Our lives will be tested on the basis of how we “responded” to His Grace, and how we “extended” His Grace to others. (See I Corinthians 3:11-15).
Lord, create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your free Spirit. Then I will be able to help transgressors in their ways, and sinners will return to you. (Psalm 51:10-15) In Jesus Name!