Summary: We are called to 1) Restore the Broken 2) Relieve the Burdened 3) Repent of Bragging & 4) Respect your Boundary
This week on the Fox network show Red Eye, comedian Greg Gutfield mocked reports from Canadian military generals, that the Canadian army has been so overstretched, that after the Afghanistan deployment, they would require an operational pause to repair and refit the military. What made the comedy so offensive to many Canadians was that it came at the exact time a so called ramp ceremony was being conducted to repatriate the bodies of soldiers just killed. For anyone who has seen it, the process involves several soldiers carrying the casket of the fallen comrade aboard the transportation aircraft back to Canada. Instead of using a truck to carry the dead soldier, each of the members in the honor guard personally bears the weight of their dead comrade. This ceremony is significant. It is the coming together of a military unity in support of a fallen comrade.
In Galatians 6:1-5, God instructs us in how to bear with a fallen comrade who is overtaken in sin. To avoid the destruction of the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:15-21) Paul has shown us how the Holy Spirit produces a fruit of righteousness (Gal. 5:22-23). This then is the outworking among believers of that fruit.
One of the most destructive elements in a congregation is when people a) kick someone when they are down, b) heave further burdens on them, c) ignore their own sin and d) fail to take responsibility for their own actions. If we truly wish to be a congregation that is fruitful in God’s eyes, enjoying His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, then seeing the role that each of us has in bearing with one another will produce a harvest of fruit. Therefore in Galatians 6 we see our calling to
1) Restore the Broken: Galatians 6:1
Galatians 6:1 [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. (ESV)
Paul presents a hypothetical case of a believer who is suddenly tripped up and falls into sin. The word caught/overtaken carries the idea of being surprised, so it is not a case of deliberate disobedience.
• The thought is that of someone running from sin but sin, being faster, overtakes and catches him (Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 2:609)
• It is in a passive tense, as if someone did not take enough care, and through their lack, sin took hold of them. (William Hendriksen: Galatians. Baker New Testament Commentary. Baker Publishing House. 2002. Footnote. P. 231)
Why does Paul use this illustration? Because nothing reveals the wickedness of legalism better than the way the legalists treat those who have sinned. Call to mind the Pharisees who dragged a woman taken in adultery before Jesus (John 8).
Or that Jewish mob that almost killed Paul because they thought he had defiled the temple by bringing in Gentiles (Acts 21:27ff). (Legalists do not need facts and proof; they need only suspicions and rumors. Their self-righteous imaginations will do the rest.) So, in this paragraph, Paul is really contrasting the way the legalist would deal with the erring brother, and the way the spiritual man would deal with him (Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Ga 6:1).
The first responsibility of one who is spiritual/believer who seeks to restore anyone caught in any transgression is to help pick them up. When a person stumbles into sin, and needs to recover from it, they often need assistance in doing it. An integral part of church discipline, therefore, is helping a fallen brother get back on their feet spiritually and morally.
Even if anyone is caught in any transgression/trespass, they deserve help and encouragement as well as rebuke. Caught may imply that the person was actually seen committing the transgression/trespass, indicating there was no doubt about their guilt. But the Greek verb (prolambanô) also allows for the idea of someone being caught by the transgression/trespass itself, as it were. That is the sense of the King James rendering, “overtaken in a fault,” and seems appropriate in this context.
That interpretation is also supported by Paul’s use of paraptôma (transgression/trespass), which has the basic idea of stumbling or falling. Someone does not commit the sin with premeditation but rather fails to be on their guard or perhaps flirts with a temptation they think they can withstand. Or perhaps they simply try to live their life in their own power and fail, producing works of the flesh (Gal. 5:16-21) rather than the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23).
Responsibility for the discipline of those who stumble, as well as for those who commit more serious sins, rests on the shoulders of church members who are spiritual.