Summary: An incomprehensive study on the ’one another’ verses. Part 3
I want to draw your attention to something most of us would never, otherwise, pause to consider very carefully...something that, in a way, we take for granted. Bearing another person’s burdens.
Think about this. When a man sees a woman carrying something, it is considered gentlemanly for him to offer to carry it for her. (Unless he’s a purse-snatcher in New York City) He doesn’t really think about it; he just does it because that’s the way ’Pop’ taught him.
Even between men; if a man sees a friend picking up boxes and carrying them from one place to another, he will generally (unless he suffers a chronic back ailment) step up without a word and begin helping with that chore.
Bearing a burden for someone else is an entirely self-sacrificing, unselfish thing. You’re generally doing something you have not been obligated to do, it takes your time and your effort, and it relieves the load entirely or almost entirely from someone else. In addition, it ultimately leads to time freed for friendly conversation; a stronger bond between friends; someone left with a good feeling, that someone else voluntarily stepped in and took their load upon themselves.
The load that Paul is exhorting us to bear here can be much, much heavier than a box of books, or a bag of groceries. It can be a heavy and troublesome burden, indeed.
But it’s been given us to do, and there is great fruit to be gleaned from obedience to the task.
Let’s start by looking back at chapter 5 verse 25, and explain some terms as we go.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit”
Those who have been under my teaching in Romans know, that in the eighth chapter of that epistle, when Paul talks of walking according to the Spirit he is talking about the state of being saved; not our daily walk. The daily walk of the Christian, in obedience, striving to learn what is pleasing to the Lord, is addressed very fully in other of Paul’s epistles. But in chapter 8 of Romans he is very deliberately stressing God’s grace and provision for us, and his comparison (primarily in verses 4b through 11) is between those who are saved, and those who are not saved.
When he says that the mind set on the flesh is death but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, he is contrasting those who are saved with those who are not saved. He is not drawing a distinction between two believers; one who has an obedient walk, and one who does not.
Well, here in Galatians 5:25 we have both of those elements. If I may paraphrase; “If the life of the Holy Spirit is in us, then we should let Him manifest His life through us.” or “If we are saved, then let’s act like it.”
Now it is important that we understand that, and this is why I wanted to back up as far as verse 25 in beginning this sermon; because what comes next is only possible if we are:
1. Saved and
2. We behave accordingly.
He begins verse 26 with the phrase, “Let us not become...” So obviously, the list that follows is of characteristics that should not be found in one who is living by the Spirit and walking by the Spirit. SAVED and ACTING LIKE IT.
The list: boastful, challenging, envying.
Self-aggrandizing, looking down on those seen as lower or lesser than we, looking up in bitterness and jealousy at someone seen as higher or greater than we.
Very concisely, Paul has encompassed all the behaviors that are diametrically opposed to the spirit (small ‘s’) of humility and unity and brotherly love in a church.
1. Building up one’s self in one’s own estimation
2. Belittling others around one’s self
3. Trying to bring others down to one’s own level.
No one manifesting these attitudes, one or all three, is likely to bend to lift anyone’s burden. In fact, the example of the Scribes of Jesus’ day was that rather than lifting the burdens of the common man (which they should have been doing), they were placing added burdens on their shoulders; for which they received sharp rebuke from Jesus.
They were the lawyers. The interpreters of the Law. Here is what our Lord said to them in Luke 11:46
“Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.”
The really sad thing, if you think this through, is that those who point the finger and place legalistic burdens on others generally hold themselves to the same standards; and when they fail, they fall very hard...because they’ve failed themselves.