Summary: A message from an expository series from the book of Galatians.
In reality there are only two ways to win a race. You can win by running faster than anyone else or by having everyone else quit before reaching the finish line. As we have traveled through the book of Galatians we have encountered a group of legalists known as the Judaizers. The legalists have a habit of choosing a standard that is inflexible by which they measure themselves and others. They hold fast to the idea that they must work in order to gain God’s acceptance. The problem lies in the fact that not even the legalist is sure that they are good enough to earn God’s acceptance. So they take comfort in the failures of others. The truth is that the law makes no room for grace and has little room for restoration. There are several things that indicate someone might be a legalist: pride in their own morality, a holier than thou attitude, a noticeable lack of love and forgiveness. As Christians we are called to be able to identify with the struggles of others. Paul makes it clear in this portion of the letter that the spiritual family exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit will always care for and protect every member. In our text Paul gives several directives that follow along these lines.
I. When someone falls restoration is a priority.
A. Although the Galatians have at times gone off course and fallen out of step, Paul is not ready to write them off.
1. They still have every hope of salvation through trusting in the cross of Christ, if only they do not abandon that hope.
2. Rather than secretly gloating when a brother is “caught” in a sin, mature Christians will rush to his aid.
3. The kind of sin Paul envisions is not a willful, defiant, and persistent sin, but an isolated action.
B. In presenting the proper course of action, Paul shows what to do, who should do it, and finally how it should be done.
1. Paul says that Christians are to restore the person who has fallen into sin. The verb (katarizo) is a medical term used in secular Greek for setting a fractured bone.
2. What is wrong in the life of the fallen Christian is to be set straight. It is not to be neglected or exposed openly.
3. Paul says that the work of restoring must be done by those who are spiritual.
4. Paul is reminding his readers that only those who are genuinely led of the Spirit have the maturity to deal with sin in others. Every Christian should desire such maturity and be mature.
5. The restoration must be done gently keeping in mind that no one, no matter how spiritual, have immunity from temptation
II. Our spiritual journey requires social expression.
A. The way of the flesh is “every man for himself,” but the way of the Spirit is mutual assistance in reaching the heavenly goal.
1. As Christians we are not to stand around pointing out the mistakes of others, we need to be ready and willing to pitch in and help them in their struggles.
2. The reciprocal nature of “each other’s burdens” implies that those who are weak and those who are strong may often switch places.
3. The legalism of their past reliance on works is now replaced by a new law—the law of love.
4. Throughout the Gospels Jesus illustrated with his parables, his sermons, and his own actions what this law of love meant.
5. The essential quality that enables these types of relationships to flourish is humility.
6. God never allows us to measure our own progress according to someone else.
B. We must help others without expecting something in return.
1. Just as there is a sense in which everyone in the church is responsible for carrying the burdens of others, there is also a sense in which people must assume their own responsibility.
2. Christ repeatedly demanded that those who follow him must love one another and love their neighbors as themselves.
3. We are to bear one another’s ‘burdens’ which are too heavy for a man to bear alone, but there is one burden which we cannot share—indeed do not need to because it is light enough for every man to carry himself—and that is our responsibility to God on the day of judgment. On that day you cannot carry my load and I cannot carry yours.”
III. To please the Spirit we must invest in the lives of others.
A. Another aspect of the mutual duties Christians have toward one another is their need to provide financial support for their teacher.
1. The teacher has spent his working hours learning and then teaching God’s word, so his need for financial assistance becomes obvious.