“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. 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. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 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. For each one will bear his own load. The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.” (Galatians 5:25-6:6)
Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (5:26) The Greek word for conceited is “kenodoxoi” which means “vain-glorious” or “empty of honor.” Conceit is a deep insecurity, a perceived absence of honor and glory that drives a person to prove his worth to himself and others and causes him to live in a state of comparing himself to others (see 6:4). When the person (wrongly) feels superior to others and looks down on them, his pride can provoke others. When he (wrongly) feels inferior to others he will envy them. The gospel gives us a whole new self-image which comes from knowing we are loved by God unconditionally (versus based on our performance) and sets us free from the need to prove ourselves to others and to ourselves through our performance. Tim Keller paraphrases this verse by saying, “Do not let your hunger for honor make you either despise (look down on) or envy people.” The gospel makes us both humble (knowing all our value is due to God’s grace) and secure (because we know we are loved and valued for who we are not what we do). “Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor. 3:4-6)
“Brothers, if someone is caught (trapped in a habitual pattern of sin) in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” (6:1) “You who are spiritual” means, you who are walking in the Spirit, not just spiritual leaders. And since we know that it is only by God’s grace that we too are not “caught in sin” we are meek and gentle with those we seek to help. If not careful we could have spiritual pride which can cause us to fall into sin. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”(1 Cor. 10:12) The Greek word for restore means to set a dislocated bone back in place which is very painful and thus needs to be done gently. This is also a picture of the body of Christ being broken when a fellow believer has fallen into sin and thus is out of fellowship with God and His people (dislocated). Thus there is the need to restore him and by so doing restore spiritual health to the body of Christ.
“Am I my brother’s keeper (defender, guardian)?” (Gen. 4:9) Yes. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (6:2) by serving one another in love.” (Gal 5:13-14). Since Jesus bore our huge burden of sin at a great cost to Himself we are to bear one another’s burdens. Being my brother’s keeper goes against the highly valued individualism of our culture but it is an integral part of the kingdom of God so as to “fulfill the law of Christ.” (V.2) A “burden” is more than a “load” spoken of in verse 5. The Greek word implies “weighty abundance” – more than one can handle alone. Whereas the different Greek word for “load” implies the tasks given us by God for which we are responsible and accountable to Him. Thus to help another carry his “load” may actually be enabling him and thus helping him is hurting him by stunting his spiritual growth.
“Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.” (6:6) Carrying another’s burden includes sharing material and financial blessings with those who teach you God’s Word.
“If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (6:3) This can apply both to a prideful attitude in restoring a fallen brother and a prideful attitude in our unwillingness to help another carry his burden. Pride has no place in a Christian’s life (except as seen in the next verse, 4) for Jesus says, “apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.” (6:4) “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Cor. 4:7)
The enemy of contentment is comparison and unless we trust the Lord to determine the “content” of our life we will compare, covet, compete and compromise our integrity.
*See Conformed to His Image by Ken Boa
Kristen and I wish you a Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year!
Until He comes again,
Len and Kristen