Galatians 6:1 – 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.
This chapter contains the closing comments of Paul to the Galatian churches. He speaks to them kindly, offering fatherly advice and encouraging them to watch out for each other spiritually.
Paul plainly states that it is possible for Christians to be ‘caught’ in sin. The actual root meaning for the word is exactly that – to be taken unaware or by surprise.
In other words, Christians do not plan to deliberately sin. They set their hearts to purposely follow Jesus and his ways and to live holy lives that are pleasing to the Father (which is in opposition to walking in the flesh, as discussed in chapter five).
But in the midst of that, it is possible for a Christian to be snared by a sudden or unexpected temptation which they are not prepared for. There are also cases where a Christian can be caught up in an episode of headstrong passion which leads to sin (we would call it ‘the heat of the moment’). Paul is undoubtedly referring to some of the sins mentioned in 5:19-21 of this letter, which we covered in our last post.
When a brother does fall into sin, there are those in the church who can help. These are the people who are ‘spiritual’. They are believers who have overcome temptations because they walk according to the Spirit. They are qualified to go along side the transgressor and bring him back to the ways of righteousness. Paul does not say exactly how this is to be done, but a combination of council, prayer, accountability and changes in action/behavior may all be warranted.
What Paul does make clear is that this restoration cannot be done in anger or with an attitude of harsh judgment/discipline. The transgressor is to be restored with an attitude of love, patience and gentleness. While his/her sin is totally unacceptable, we don’t need to martyr them in order to restore them.
The truth is that all Christians are liable to sin; anyone of us could be ‘caught’ in it at any time.
I Corinthians 10:12-13 – Therefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…
Notice that the result we are looking for in these situations is to restore or bring our brother back into his former condition – living in a righteous relationship with Christ as a fully functioning member of the church body. This is a type of spiritual healing. If we try to heal through accusation, condemnation or harsh judgment, we are likely to make our brother’s injuries worse rather than better!
Keep in mind that our brother has been ambushed by the enemy. It would be cruel indeed to treat him harshly when he is already suffering. Rather, we should be moved by compassion and try to restore him with forgiveness. But again, let us make the distinction that this directive of Paul refers to sins we are inadvertently caught up in. It does not refer to instances of rebellion when we purposely choose to walk according to the flesh.
We should be all the more willing to forgive and restore others in a spirit of meekness, when we consider that we too can be ensnared by our enemy and fail in our Christian walk.
Galatians 6:2 – Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
This directive of Paul can be taken one of two ways.
If we interpret it in light of the former verse, then we understand it to mean it is our duty to nurse our fallen brothers back to spiritual health. If they have fallen into a sin or error and recognize their mistake, their sin is undoubtedly a weight or burden on their soul. At that point, we should come alongside them to offer comfort, forgiveness and restoration. We should be there to assist them in accountability, so as to avoid future lapses.
Alternatively, if we consider this verse to be a new precept or command from the apostle, then we understand it to mean that we should sympathize with our Christian family anytime they are under a trial or affliction.
Romans 12:15 – Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.
This would include seasons of financial hardship, illness, bereavement, etc. Perhaps his instructions can best be interpreted as a mandate for us to support the family of Christ at all times!
When we support each other and help bear one another’s burdens, Paul says we are fulfilling the law of Christ. We cannot help but notice that he uses the phrase ‘law of Christ’ very strategically.
Remember, the overall problem in Galatia is that some Christians have been led astray by false teachers, who have added the observance of Mosaic Law into the practice of Christianity. But Paul has made it very clear that the grace of the gospel message does not include observance of the Mosaic Law. The “law” that Christians need to observe is the one that Jesus gave us: The law of loving one another/loving our neighbor.
John 13:34 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
There is no way on earth that a person could fulfill the requirements of the Mosaic Law. But Paul indicates that the law of Christ – the law of love – can indeed be fulfilled as we bear one another’s burdens and assist each other in our Christian walk (Romans 15:1-3).
Galatians 6:3 – For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Paul is still cautioning believers to exercise tenderness and compassion towards brothers or sisters that have fallen into sin. He now particularly cautions the rest of the body to beware of the sins of pride and conceit. He intimates that having a high opinion of ourselves will cause us to judge/condemn others without pity or compassion and make it impossible for us to restore them to the body.
So, let’s ask ourselves this important question: What causes a person to think they are something, when they are really nothing? Where does that pride come from?
The root of this pride can be found in the comparison of ourselves to others. Let’s consider an example. Suppose that a fictitious Christian name Alice looks at the life of another fictitious Christian name Bertha. Alice notes that Bertha has committed several sins which she considers to be ‘big sins’ such as murder and grand theft. Alice then looks at her own life. She determines that her own sins are ‘small sins’ such as lying or gossiping. So, when she compares herself to Bertha, she considers herself to be a superior Christian. She further determines that because of her superior spiritual walk, she would NEVER commit the ‘big’ sins of murder or theft. By comparing herself to others, Alice is opening the door for spiritual pride and deception to enter her life.
We further note that Alice has used faulty logic to reach her conclusion. The truth is that sin is sin. All sin is repulsive in the sight of God, regardless of how harmless we consider it to be.
- The truth is that ALL of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and ALL of us are saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8).
- The truth is that any one of us is capable of committing any sin (including murder) given the right set of circumstances.
- The truth is that when we give an account of ourselves before God, there won’t be any comparisons with others. We will be judged by our own stewardship (Romans 14:12).
So, if we want to do any comparing, we need to compare ourselves to Christ alone. When we do, we will realize just how sinful we are. This will dispel any false notions of pride that we may have about ourselves. When we consider the reality of our own sinful state, it puts us in a position to restore our fallen brothers/sisters in a spirit of meekness and humility.
Galatians 6:4-5 – 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.
Personally, I prefer the King James Version of this verse:
“But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.”
Rather than comparing himself to others, each Christian needs to examine his own life and conduct in light of the word of God. If he finds that he is on the right path, that the Spirit is producing fruit in him, that he is being made over into the image of Christ, and he has a sure assurance of heaven, then he has a true reason to rejoice. He has found a source of pure joy in his life.
Because the source of this joy/rejoicing is within himself, it cannot be taken away. No matter what may happen in his life, the enemy cannot rob him of this joy. Neither can the opinion (good or bad) of others affect it.
On the other hand, if a Christian finds joy by comparing himself to others, then his joy is always dependent on the outcome of that comparison. He can be joyful only when others approve of him and he will certainly be miserable when they disapprove of him. His joy/rejoicing is subject to change as often as the fickle opinions of man change.
We should never forget that each of us will ‘bear our own load’ or reap the rewards/judgments of our own actions in this life, regardless of what others do.
Galatians 6:6 – Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.
It is quite likely that there were a number of false teachers circulating among the Galatian churches. Once they found out that they had been deceived, the Galatians’ love for the word of God and ministers of the gospel had naturally grown cold. In response, they stopped giving offerings to the church.
While this was understandable, it had to change. There were many true gospel preachers ministering to the flock of Christ, and they relied on the support of the church. So Paul now exhorts the Galatians to perform this part of their Christian duty; good and faithful pastors/ministers should be financially supported by those they minister to.
As for those of us who benefit from their teaching, let us remind ourselves that no earthly sum can make up for what we receive in the spiritual realm from these men and women of God, who have dedicated their time to the work of the gospel. It is only fitting that we share in their support.
Galatians 6:7 – Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
This particular exhortation from the apostle is very weighty and complex. But first and foremost, it must be interpreted in the context of the chapter, which is the financial support of ministers.
Here is the situation:
- It was the duty of the Galatian Christians to support their local church and ministers.
- Some of the Galatian believers apparently chose to stop or withhold their financial support.
- These people no doubt provided a lot of seemingly plausible excuses for this action to their fellow brothers and sisters in the church.
- These excuses may have included things like:
- I have bills to pay.
- I need to save for retirement.
- I am going to buy a house.
- Times are uncertain.
- I don’t want my money to support false teachers.
- Etc, etc, etc.
In the eyes of their fellow Christians, these excuses seemed legitimate.
Here is the problem:
While these excuses seemed legitimate to their fellow brothers and sisters, they were unacceptable in the eyes of God. So, this is how the Galatians deceived themselves: They believed that their excuses exempted them from doing their duty before God.
What is the meaning of ‘God will not be mocked’?
To mock means to imitate or mimic in sport or contempt. We are all familiar with this definition. But the word also means to disappoint the hopes of; to deceive or tantalize. So while these Christians convinced their fellow brothers and sisters that they had no resources to help support the ministry, they could not fool God in the same way. They could not mock or deceive him.
Why were their excuses unacceptable to God?
Well, let’s examine the thoughts and motivations of the Galatians. As we have already established, it was their duty to financially support the ministers of their local church, but for various reasons, they stopped doing their duty. In their eyes, giving money to the church was like putting it into a black hole – it just vanished. In their opinion, they received nothing in exchange for it. They truly believed that whatever they gave to the church was lost to them. Therefore, they simply weren’t going to give anymore; they were going to keep their resources for themselves.
But they overlooked the most fundamental truth of supporting the gospel: We give to God, not to man. The gospel is to be supported through the tithes and offerings that God has instructed us to give to him.
Malachi 3:10 – Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
This truth has some pretty far reaching consequences and rewards.
Because we give to God and not to man, we don’t need to be devastated if a false minister misuses some of that money. Obviously, we can and should do all we can not to be fooled, but it may just happen on occasion. But even in those instances, our conscience is clear and our reward is sure, because we gave to God in faith. If that other person stole or misused the money, he stole it from God; and God will deal with him. This was probably one of the main concerns of the Galatian Christians.
Because we give to God and not to man, we don’t need to fear that we will not have enough for our personal needs. It is true that you are to be a wise steward over what you have. But even if we make some bad financial decisions, we can count on our heavenly Father to help us. God is Jehovah Jireh, our provider and he is more than capable of making sure our needs are met. When we honor him with our obedient giving, he makes sure we have enough to meet all our needs.
I will personally testify to you right now, that this is true! My spouse and I have always tithed and God has always provided everything that was needed, without exception. I could give you example after example, if time and space allowed! But let me leave you with this thought: Try it yourself. If you do not pay tithes into your local church, speak to God about it and begin to give. Watch and see what happens!
Because we give to God and not to man, God’s laws of sowing and reaping apply to what we give.
Luke 6:38 – Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your lap. For with the same measure that you measure it shall be measured to you again.
As you are probably aware, entire books have been written about the implications of the verses we have just mentioned. Obviously, we can’t examine them at length in this blog post. But I hope that I have stirred up your memory and your curiosity in regards to this subject. I encourage you to do some further reading and research.
In the meantime, know this: Supporting the gospel is not throwing your money into a black hole. It is sowing seed which will result in a harvest, for both you and the kingdom of heaven. Please remind yourself that when you support the gospel, you are giving to God, not man. And God will always reward you.
Now, we cannot move away from this verse without noting that while Paul used this truth in the immediate context of supporting the church, it is a spiritual principle which applies to every aspect of life.
In other words, if you plant corn seeds, what do you get – obviously, a harvest of corn (Genesis 1:11-12, 21, 24).
If you sow mercy and kindness, what do you get in return? That’s right – mercy and kindness for yourself (Matthew 5:7)!
God’s laws of sowing and reaping cannot be overturned (Genesis 8:22). So consider carefully where you are sowing your time, attention and resources. Carefully consider the values and principles you are sowing into your children and grandchildren. Give heed to the seeds you sow with your mouth!
Galatians 6:8 – 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.
Again, the laws of sowing and reaping apply here. A man who sows or invests all that he has in this life without any regard for the next, will indeed gather fruit corresponding to the seed he has sown. He may reap immense personal wealth and every good thing found in this life. But these things are corrupt and temporary. They are tainted with sin and will soon pass away. The man who sows to his flesh will have nothing in the next life.
But the man (or woman) who sows seed into the kingdom of heaven will reap a reward both now and in the next life. They will harvest riches that can never rust, fade away or be stolen (Luke 12:33-34).
Paul is probably also making an overall conclusion to his earlier teaching. Circumcision of the flesh (any attempt to keep the law) is futile. Those who sow into this system will reap corruption/death, because they cannot keep the law. But those who are circumcised in the heart by the Spirit of God will certainly reap eternal life through the blood of Christ.
Let me offer you some encouragement:
Back in the book of Genesis, Cain asks the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). The real answer to his question is ‘yes’. When one of our brothers or sisters in Christ falls into sin, it is our job to meekly come along side them to assist in their restoration to the body of Christ.
This is an important function of the church which requires time, effort, patience and love. If you are presented with an opportunity to restore a brother or sister, I encourage you not to turn away from it. It is a work that will be well pleasing to God.
Let me offer you some relief and strength:
In this post, we talked about the laws of sowing and reaping. Maybe you haven’t sown the best seed into your life. But that doesn’t mean your situation is hopeless. Cry out to God in prayer. Renounce the bad seed that you have sown with your mouth, your actions and your attitudes. Then begin the process of sowing good things into your life. Here is a promise that you can stand on:
Joel 2:25 – And I [God] will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, and the consuming locust, and the cutting locust, my great army which I sent among you.
If you are alive and reading this blog right now then it is NOT too late to begin sowing seeds in the kingdom of heaven! So get started today!