BEARING BURDENS

GALATIANS 6:1-5

Have you ever tried to imagine the perfect church? I think that a lot of people move from church to church, looking for that perfect church. They stay only long enough to see a problem, and then they are off to the next place on their endless quest. The rest of us smile a sad but understanding smile because we know that there is no such thing.

In my more sarcastic moments, I tell such people that if they ever do find the perfect church, they must leave at once, for their presence would certainly contaminate it.

Frederick the Great of Prussia was touring a prison. Each of the prisoners he saw insisted upon his own innocence and described having been falsely accused and convicted. Finally he came to one man who, when questioned, admitted that he was guilty of the crime with which he had been charged and was deserving of the penalty. "Quick!" called Frederick to the prison guards,"Remove this man from this prison at once and set him free. He is in danger of corrupting all of these innocent men!"

When we think of the perfect ministry, we are inclined to picture a nice, clean building full of pleasant people who have it all together. They come on Sunday morning in their stylish dresses and pressed suits to sit in softly upholstered pews and listen to softly upholstered sermons.

How different was the ministry of Jesus! He did not come to minister to those who had it all together. He came to help the down and out. He came to help those who were contaminated with the polution of sin and who knew it.

 

BURDEN-BEARING AND RESORTATION

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.(Galatians 6:1).

Paul begins this section by suggesting a hypothetical situation. It is introduced with a conditional clause - "IF." This is a third class condition, indicating that Paul does not have some specific type of trespass in mind.

He has been exhorting his readers to walk in the Spirit in order that they might bear the fruit of the Spirit. That is the standard for the Christian life. But if perchance this does not take place, then there is something else that SHOULD take place - restoration.

1. The Need for Restoration: Even if anyone is caught in any trespass (6:1).

Paul never says that it is a normal fact of life that Christians sin. We have been called to a higher walk. We have been called to walk in the Spirit and not to do the old dead works of the flesh. And yet, it is a normal fact of life that Christians sin.

My wife's grandfather had convinced himself that this was not the case. He held to a theology that said it is possible to arrive at a point as a Christian where you no longer sin. He claimed not to have sinned for 20 years. He did this by not stepping out of his house for nearly 20 years.

I got to know him a bit and I learned something about him. I learned that he was wrong. If sin is defined as "any want or transgression of the law of God," then he was a sinner. I can say this because I can point to specific areas of the law of God that he transgressed. For example, he cut himself off from regular fellowship in the church and that is a direct transgression of the command not to forsake the assembling together of the saints (Hebrews 9:25).

This passage describes one who is caught ( , aorist passive subjunctive of ) in a sinful situation. It describes one who has been overcome. The implication is that he is one who has in the past been demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit, but who has now been overcome in a temptation.

2. The People of Restoration: You who are spiritual, restore such a one (6:1).

The qualification for having a ministry of restoration is that you first be spiritual. What does it mean to be spiritual? The context has already told us what it means. In means that you...

Here is the point. You cannot restore someone to a Spiritual walk if you yourself are not walking by that same Spirit. You cannot dispense what you do not have. And if you try, you will be like a blind guide who tries to lead another blind man through a series of pitfalls. You are both going to end up taking a nasty fall.

If your Christianity does not work in your own life, it doesn't work at all. Don't try to export it.

3. The Spirit of Restoration: Restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness (6:1).

If we are harsh when we are attempting to restore, the result will be that we drive people away instead of bringing them back to Jesus. Our example is Jesus. He called sinners to repent, but when they did, He did not beat them over the head with their sin. Instead He loved them.

Do you remember the story of Jesus and Peter. Peter had denied Jesus. And he hadn't only done it once. Three times he had said, "I don't know Him." And by the third time he was swearing and sweating.

After the resurrection, Jesus and Peter came together. What did Jesus say to Peter? Did He rebuke him? Did He say, "That's it, Peter; you have really blown it now! You are hereby suspended from being an apostle until you have demonstrated an adequate time of repentance and remorse and then we will put you on probation to see whether we will restore you." That isn't what happened.

Instead we see Jesus asking Peter, "Do you love Me?" And when the answer came back in the affirmative, He said, "Then pastor my sheep." Do you see it? Jesus restored Peter and He did so in a spirit of gentleness.

4. The Danger of Restoration: So that you too will not be tempted (6:1).

We must never come into the resotration process believing that we are immune to the temptations which caused another to fall. Pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 10:18; 1 Corinthians 10:12).

When Paul said that those who are spiritual are to do the work of restoration, he means that those who are spiritual at that particular time. But that same person who is spiritual now might need to be restored at a later time.

5. The Fact of Restoration: Restore such a one... (6:1).

It is so obvious that it almost doesn't need to be said, except that far too many churches have ignored that the church is supposed to be in the restoration business. I should know. I am a part of the Reformed tradition. Be believe in the total depravity of mankind, but if we find any indications of it in our pastors, then we kick them out.

This teaching of restoration ought not to be taken as being contrary to church discipline. The Bible clearly teaches that one of the marks of the church is its discipline of its members. But church discipline is to be GRACIOUS. Titus 2:11-13 tells us that the grace of God teaches us how to live in a disciplined manner. And that means that the discipline of the church is to be embroidered with the tapestry of grace.

 

BURDEN-BEARING AND THE LAW

Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.(Galatians 6:2).

It is simply amazing that Paul should be speaking of "the Law of Christ" after all that he has said about the Law. Or is it? Do you remember what he said in the last chapter?

For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14).

This was the same thing that Jesus had told the Pharisees. He had pointed to love as the fulfillment of the Law. The Law said to have no other gods and not to take the name of the Lord in vain and to have no graven images. If you really love God, you will not have any other gods before Him or take His name in vain or worship some silly statue in His place. The Law said not to murder or to steal or to commit adultery or to bear false witness. If you really love your neighbor, then you will not murder him or steal from him or commit adultery with his wife or bear false witness against him. Love is the fulfillment of the Law. And if you really love someone, you will be ready to bear his burden.

How do we bear one another's burdens? One way has already been mentioned in the previous verse. We bear one another's burden when we restore them after they have fallen into a trespass. But that is not all. We also bear one another's burden when we become proactive in encouraging each other not to fall into such a trespass in the first place.

 

THE ATTITUDE OF THE BURDEN-BEARER

For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:3).

The thing that makes us into a gentle restorer of the fallen brother is the realization that my needs are not more important than anyone else's. This is what Paul was speaking of in Philippians 2:4 when he called believer to have this mind in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who emptied Himself and became humbly obedient to the point of going to the cross on our behalf.

Jesus said that there is coming a day when we shall all stand before the Lord to be judged. The standard of that judgment will be how we treated one another. To some He will say, "You visited Me when I was sick and imprisoned, you fed me when I was hungry, and you clothed me when I was naked. Come into My kingdom and enjoy what has been prepared for you." And when they ask, "Lord, I don't recall doing any of that," He will reply, "When you did it for one another, you were doing it for Me."

Then He will turn to others and say, "You didn't bother to visit Me when I was sick and imprisoned or to feed me when I was hungry or to clothe me when I was naked. And so, I am casting you into outer darkness." And they will protest, "Lord, if we had known it was you, we would have baked you cookies."

Remember to serve one another and to bear one another's burdens as though you were serving Christ Himself. Because you ARE.

 

BURDEN-BEARING VERSUS RESPONSIBILITY

But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one will bear his own load. (Galatians 6:4-5).

These two verses set forth a dual examination. The first takes place so that we will be ready for the second.

Galatians 6:4

Galatians 6:5

Self examination by believers in this present life

The evaluation of Christ at the future Judgment Seat

Each one must examine his own work

Each one will bear his own load

1. The Call for Self-Examination: Each one must examine his own work (6:4).

There are some people who will try to use these verses on burden-bearing as an excuse to dump on anyone who will hold still.

A man was walking through some woods and he came to a wooden bridge spanning a deep chasm over a rushing river. As he approached the center of the bridge, he saw a man there with a rope. "Here, hold this rope," said the man and then jumped over the railing. The first man found himself holding the full weight of the jumper who hung suspended over the river. "You are responsible to me. If you let go of this rope, I will fall into the river and drown."

The man holding the rope called down, "Climb back up. I can't hold you much longer." Back came the answer, "You are responsible to me. If you let go of this rope, I will fall into the river and drown."

Finally the man holding the rope said, "Look, I will hold you for another 15 seconds so that you can climb back up and then I am going to let you go." The other man repeated, "You are responsible to me. If you let go of this rope, I will fall into the river and drown."

"One... two... three..." He made it to 15 and the other man never made the attempt to climb back up, so he let go and the jumper fell into the river with a splash.

The man continued on his way. Six months later he happened by this same bridge. And standing on the middle was the same man standing on the center span and holding a rope.

The point of the story is that there are some people that merely want you to stop everything you are doing and just sit there and hold their hand through life. That is not what burden-bearing is all about. And this is what Paul means when he says that each man shall be called to bear his own load.

2. The Promise of Divine Examination: Each one will bear his own load (6:5).

The call to burden-bearing will serve as no excuse on the day of judgment. No one will be able to say, "It's not my fault, Lord. I just didn't have enough people helping me to bear my burdens."

 


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