We start by reminding ourselves of Sha’ul’s central argument from Chapter (2:16). “Yet we know that a person is set right not by deeds based on Torah, but rather through … [the faithfulness of Messiah Yeshua]. So even we have put our trust in Messiah Yeshua, in order that we might be set right based on trust in Messiah and not by deeds based on Torah—because no human will be justified by deeds based on Torah.”[i] For the last couple of weeks we have been hearing the balanced sided of the argument, the truth that sin is slavery. Therefore, we who are called to freedom in Messiah must also be holy as He is holy. But what happens when we mess up?
[Read Gal. 6:1-10]
Caught in a Sin
(Vs. 1) We are called to live as a community. This is even more important when things are not going well in our lives, especially in the area of sin, forgiveness and holiness. This verse states that:
- If someone is caught in a sin then,
- Those directed by the Ruach HaKodesh should,
- Restore such a person,
- In a spirit of gentleness,
- Looking closely at yourselves so that you are not tempted also.
After accepting Yeshua, many people notice that certain sins and habits are completed changed and removed. The late Jack Frost of Shiloh Place Ministries recounts that after accepting Yeshua he was instantly freed from a 15-year addiction to drugs, alcohol and pornography. And when asked why God does not do that for everyone, his answer was that he had so much else to work on in his life that if God had not given him that initial freedom, he would never have made it.[ii] In my life I struggle against addictions and only overcame through weekly involvement in intensely accountable men’s groups. This is the same as what was spoken to Beni Yisrael in (Deut. 7:22). Moses writes that Adonai would “drive away those nations before you little by little—you will not be able to put an end to them all at once, or else the beasts of the field will multiply on you.”
The word for caught, not only includes the concept of being found out by someone else, but also being entrapped by sin itself. When someone is entrapped by sin, then those of us who have experienced some of the freedom of Messiah from sin, should help that person out. We are called to deal with each other with a spirit of gentleness. This gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit that we talked about last week. Gentleness is a recognition that all people desperately need mercy. Few people need to be told that they have sinned, but we all need other people who will walk with us and help us to get up again. The warning to all of us who are helping another person, is that we must not fall into pride. When we help others, it must be from a place of humility, remembering that we could just as easily fall into that sin.
Bearing One Another
(Vs. 2-3) A burden is a weight that is often too large for one person to carry. We all need each other’s help from time to time. We all go through times of difficulty when the realities of life are simply too much for us to bear alone. There is a link from this passage back to Moses in (Num. 11) where the leadership of Israel was becoming too much for Moses alone. Moses complained to Adonai, “Haven’t I found favor in your eyes – that you laid the burden of all these people on me?” Adonai responded by anointing 70 elders with some of the Ruach that was on Moses so that they would carry some of the burden of the people. But again, there is a warning to those who are trying to help others with their burdens. If we attempt to help others, because we think that we are “God’s gift to the world” instead of humbly empathizing with the other person, we are in a place of self-deception.
Carrying Our Own Load
(Vs. 4-5) These verses provide a good boundary and balance to the verses about helping others with their burdens. A load refers to a burden that must be carried by an individual. It is something personal that cannot be shifted to someone else. It is right and good to help others when they are stuck in a sin or are in a difficult situation out of the ordinary. But there are responsibilities that cannot and must not be shifted to others. Sha’ul will later write to the congregation in Thessalonica (2 Thes. 3:10) that, “if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” There is a balance between helping someone in need, and causing that person to be dependent on ourselves. We end up taking away the self-respect of people when we stop them from doing their own work. The word translated “pride” refers to the glad exultation that is found by laboring.[iii]
(Vs. 6-10) Sha’ul is closing out his letter with a small chiastic poem. The 6th and 10th verse have a similar theme, as to the 7th and the 9th. The primary focus, however, is verse 8. Verses 6 and 10 talk about practical ways of loving one another within a congregation. It would seem that the congregations in Galatia were not adequately supporting their teachers of the Word, and Sha’ul reminds them that they should take every opportunity to do good, especially within the Body of Messiah. Verses 7 and 9 both talk about sowing and reaping. The concept of Karma is not supported by Scripture because there is no forgiveness in Karma, and no hope of redemption. However, Sha’ul warns the congregation that God will cause them to reap whatever seed they sow. But he encourages us to patiently wait on Adonai, because we will reap from the good seed that is sown. Verse 8 is the focus of this section, and here Sha’ul summaries this entire last section. If we indulge our fleshly desires, then it will grow into the deeds of the flesh listed in the previous chapter. But if we feed our spirit by spending time with Yeshua in prayer and Scripture reading, we will reap a life and life more abundantly.
Yeshua put it this way [Read Matt. 12:33-37] and again in [Luke 13:6-9]. If we are wondering how our heart is doing, then what are the words coming out of our mouth? Are there grumblings and complains, or is there thankfulness and trust? Is there love and forgiveness or is the bitterness and spite? We are currently in the time of Elul where we should be searching our hearts to see if there is anything that is unpleasing to Adonai. Let us ask the Ruach to speak to our hearts and reveal if there are any bitter roots in us, and in their place plant the seed of the Spirit, which is the word of God, which will grow into the fruit of the Spirit that we talked about last week.
[i] All Scripture quotations are taken from the Tree of Life (TLV) version unless otherwise noted.
[iii] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Rev. Ed., Vol 11, Robert Rapa, pg. 634.