Today we’ll be concluding Paul’s letter to the Galatians, which does a great job reemphasizing the high points made throughout the letter and focusing the minds and hearts of those reading towards true Godliness and continued growth in the Lord.
Beginning from verse 1:
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
Paul urges the Galatians (and us as well as fellow members of the Body of Christ) to bare with one another—to be willing confront one another in love with sins and work collaboratively in order to restore one another to righteous standing and fruitfulness in Christ. He tells the Galatians in verse 1 to restore each other ‘gently’—but also warns to watch ourselves, so that we are not likewise tempted. We should bare with each other, carry each other’s burdens, and in this sacrifice of love one for another we cal fulfill the law of Christ.
We then see Paul address the issue of pride—something all too often overlooked and unappreciated by Christians, but something we are ALL guilty of—something those of us who have left the message are often well acquainted with. Verse 3 says that is anyone thinks they are something when they aren’t they deceive themselves. Given the context of the letter, there are a few things Paul may have meant here. Maybe some of the Galatians thought of themselves as Jews; maybe as righteous in their behavior and standing before God because of their works; or maybe there were some that thought of themselves as uniquely gifted by God to impart doctrine. But regardless, Paul states that if a man thinks he is something when he in fact is not, he is nothing more than deceived.
We should each test our own actions, Paul says, and take pride in our own actions without comparing them to others. We should each carry our own load, and stop comparing our lot with each other’s. A good summary of the principle Paul is conveying can be found in Philippians 2:12: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but not much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. It is unprofitable to try and figure out how we compare to others in Christ—to others of different ethnicities, of different backgrounds, of different time periods, or of different socio-economic groups.
The Galatians (and us as well) shouldn’t worry about trying to ‘fit’ into a specific people group. There is no benefit from being a Jew in Christ, nor is there a benefit to comparing the differences between the two and attempting to dictate rules (like circumcision, holiness standards, dietary practices) to those of a different background. There is plenty for us to worry about ourselves—and we should use our time to carry our own load, deal with our own burdens, and address our own issues individually. We should bare with each other, and we should encourage all to a higher walk with the Lord—but getting into the weeds, dictating matters of conscious is unfruitful, and can cause divisions and temptations for ourselves and those around us.
To summarize: Christianity isn’t about us trying to conform to proper behavior and all to act and look and smell the same as other Christians. We are called to conform to the image of Jesus Christ, and though we should encourage those around us to that end, we are fooling ourselves if we think that we are something special—that we (either ourselves individually or us as a collective group) are the standard by which others should be judged.
The next statement—in verse 6—shows Paul transitioning to another topic—the support of the leaders in the church and of the church body in general. “Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor”. Clearly, Paul taught that ministers of the Gospel and leaders in the church should be supported financially and should share in the ‘good things’ of life. That’s not to say that leaders should be served at the expense of the laity—but instructors also should not be going without basic provision or ‘good things’ while the congregation abounds with prosperity.
Paul continues this discussion of provision and the sharing of good things in this famous section of scripture—Galatians 6:7-10:
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Thought the sowing and reaping analogy has many applications outside of finances, Paul IS relating it in this portion of scripture directly to the sowing of material things—of the ‘good things’ of life. If someone sows their good things to please their flesh and to reap a benefit for themselves in the flesh they will end up reaping destruction of their flesh. If someone sows in order to please the Spirit of God, however, that person shall reap eternal life.
This is by no means tying salvation to giving! But those led of the Spirit of God will sow their wealth toward spiritual good; those not yielded to the Spirit of God will sow their wealth to self-gratification. God doesn’t want us to try and buy our way into heaven—but He does want us to hear the Spirit’s leadership and answer that call in every aspect of our lives, including our finances.
Paul tells us in verse 9 that there is a promise of God associated with this giving—those that sow without growing weary will at the proper time reap a harvest of good. This promise is found throughout scripture—Luke 6:38, Malachi 3:10, Psalms 126:5-6 just to name a few—God promises us that what He calls us to give for His purposes shall yield us good. It is the principle of sowing and reaping, and it applies just as much today as it ever did before. Verse 10 is worthy of repeating, “therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
If it is within our ability to help someone, we are called as Christians to do that. We are called to be charitable, and sacrificial, and compassionate. We are called to generosity, and we are called to selflessness with our material goods. We are called by the Spirit to give the control of these things over to the Spirit.
Paul concludes the letter with a note that (presumably) was written in his own handwriting—in bigger letters, either to emphasize his point or because Paul had serious vision problems and needed to write in large font so he could see what he was writing:
11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.
17 From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
Again, Paul tells the Galatians—do not allow yourself to be compelled to circumcision. The people attempting to convince the Galatians to be circumcised are only doing so in order to have something to boast about in the flesh and in order to avoid persecution. It is a selfish thing they were doing.
Paul differentiates himself from these Jewdaizers, stating that he never wants to boast in anything except the cross of Jesus Christ. He does not concern himself with the flesh of his followers—circumcision or uncircumcision mean nothing to him—only that the people under his teaching are becoming new creations—that they are getting saved. Paul blesses those who hold to this teaching in verse 16. He asks that the dissensions in Galatia cease—that they no longer trouble him with these matters, for he is a faithful servant of Christ, bearing in his flesh the marks of Jesus Christ. These ‘marks of Christ’ are in the original the same as ‘branding’ marks borne by slaves, indicating that they are a possession of someone else. What Paul is saying in effect is that he belongs to Christ—that they are not going to sway him away from where he stands because he is sold out to Jesus—he is the servant of Christ, and these matters already addressed from the Word of God are not open for any further discussion.
Paul concludes his letter to the Galatians with well-wishes—“grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters”.
And so, I likewise conclude this bible study. God Bless you, and may the Lord continue to lead and guide you into all Truth.