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Bearing One Another’s Burdens: Restoring the Fallen Galatians 6:1-10. The key to difficult Bible passages is often context; it is not only key , it is critical to proper understanding, and therefore application, of them.
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This passage, taken out of context, has been used to teach that congregants (the taught) ought to financially support preachers (the teacher). While 1Cor.9:3-14clearly teaches this principle, it is awfully strange, and somewhat trivial, to mention it such in the middle of a discussion of restoring erring brethren, don’t you think?
Again, what an odd place for Paul to address financial matters where he has been talking about restoring fallen Christians!
In the precedingcontext to our passage, being led by and walking by the Spirit has been contrasted to being led by and carrying out the deeds of the flesh, 5:16-26. Now,
“Brethren” are addressed concerning one of their own;
who “is caught” (to take beforehand, cf. Mark 14:8) before he even realizes it; he has not yet come to realize his sin, Matt.18:15;
“you who are spiritual”- those living and walking by the Spirit, cf.5:25; those w/o a “log” (Matt.7:5), and at least presently unblinded by Satan (cf. 2Cor.3:14; 4:4);
“restore” is from the word used to repair or mend that which is torn (as a net, Matt.4:21); in this case, to bring back;
“in gentleness” is meekness or mildness of disposition, 1Cor.4:21;
“looking to yourself, let you too be tempted”- as per1Cor.10:12.
“Bear” (bastazo)is to take up in order to carry; uphold;
“one another’s” refers to a brother’s or sister’s;
“burdens” (baros)- that which is excessive, which in this case, is the burden of sin which has entrapped them from v.1;
“fulfill the law of Christ” in keeping with the context of 5:13b-14.
“For” provides the reason we should be burden-bearers: by helping them overcome the sin(s) by which they have been entrapped; namely, to be who we’re supposed to be;
“if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself”- a refusal to be properly empathetic, and to bear his burden proves self-deception about our own spirituality from v.1, as in Luke 15:25-32(the self-righteous Pharisee) and 18:11-12 (the prodigal’s older brother).
“But let each one examine his own work and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.”
Instead of finding a brother with “more sins than me” with which to compare ourselves,
Our spirituality, at least in this context, is determined by our willingness and ability to bear another’s burden of sin by gently returning him to the Lord without succumbing to it ourselves, v.1!
By this standard, our estimations of “self” are not based in comparison to others, but by the comparison of self to the standard of God’s word, 2Cor.13:5.
“For each one shall bear his own load.”
The load (phortion- task or service)of helping another with his burden (baros- excessive, abundant) of sin is ours.
Everyone will be called into account for himself, 2Cor.5:10; but part of that accountability will have to do with whether or not we have been properly concerned and active in helping others to come out of their burden of sin! Jas.5:19-20; 2:12-13ff.
“And let the one who is taught the word”refers not to a congregation being taught by a preacher;
It refers, in context, to one who is “caught in any trespass”who has his burden of sin born by a spiritual one in showing him the error of his way and leading him back to Christ!
And the “good things” he is to “share” are likewise defined within this context (which has nothing to with money) as a favorable response to the Word; i.e. to repent and return.
How so? Look at the verses which follow.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”
What kind of response should a spiritual burden-bearer receive when he attempts to gently restore one caught in the trap of trespass? To be bitten and devoured, as in 5:15?
Of course not! He should receive the good response of repentance and restoration.
And if the entrapped one doesn’t respond by sharing good things through repentance and restoration, then God will not be mocked, and he will bear the responsibility of reaping as he has sown!
If he continues to sow to his own fleshly desires (5:19-21), he will reap only corruption, v.8.
“And let us”– those who are spiritual, v.1 and 5:13-14; 22-25;
“not lose heart”- or, according Vine’s, lack courage in
“doing good”- in gentleness bearing the burdens of those caught in trespasses by restoring them back to faithfulness (v.1) through the teaching of the word (v.6)
“for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary” – the rewards of a restored brother, cf. Isa.55:10-11; or if not, then as in 1Cor.3:11-15.
And finally, v.10,
“So then”– based on all the preceding;
“while we have opportunity”- before the erring has reaped the full corruption of his sowing;
“let us do good”- in this context, “good” has been “using God’s word to restore the erring to faithfulness,” vv.1,6;
“to all men” – though the context has been specific to the erring Christian, certainly all men need to be restored to the fellowship of the Lord in which they were created and had at birth, Luke 18:16;
“and especially to those who areof(but not currently “in” because of sin, v.1) the household of faith”- which has been the context from the beginning of the chapter!
This context is not really about paying preachers, or universal benevolence either!
It is about spiritual people having the heart and courage to use the Word of God to gentlyrestore those caught in trespasses back to faithfulness.
“Go and do the same.” Luke 10:37