by Larry Browning
“Christ in us for others”—This should be every Christian’s motto. “One another” should be one of the key phrases in a believer’s vocabulary. “Love one another” is found at least a dozen times in the New Testament, along with “pray one for another,” “edify one another,” “prefer one another,” and “be hospitable one to another.” In Galatians 6:2, Paul adds another phrase: “Bear one another’s burdens.” The Spirit led believer thinks of others and how he can minister to them. Paul describes two of those ministries in Galatians 6:1-10.
1) Bearing Burdens (Galatians 6:1-5).
The legalist isn’t interested in bearing burdens, he adds to the burdens of others. The legalist is always harder on other people than he is on himself, but the Spirit led believer demands more of himself than he does of others so that he’ll be able to help others. In these verses, Paul presents a hypothetical case of a believer who’s suddenly tripped up and falls into sin. He does this because nothing reveals the wickedness of legalism better than the way a legalist treats those who have sinned. Legalists don’t need facts and proof. All they need is suspicions and rumors. Their self-righteous imaginations will do the rest. So, what Paul’s really doing is contrasting two ways of dealing with a sinning brother, the way of the legalist and the way of the spiritual man. What’s the difference?
A. There’s a difference in aim. The spiritual man seeks to restore the brother in love, while the legalist will exploit the brother by guilt. The believer who’s led by the Spirit and living in the liberty of grace will seek to help this person because the fruit of the Spirit is love and by love, he’ll serve others. Instead of trying to restore the sinning brother, the legalist will condemn him and then use him to make himself look good. The legalist rejoices when a brother falls, and often publicizes the matter, because then he can boast about his own goodness. The believer who walks in the Spirit isn’t competing with other Christians or challenging them to become “as good as he is.” The legalist however, lives by competition and comparison, and tries to make himself look good by making others look bad.
B. There’s a difference in attitude. The Spirit led believer approaches the matter in a spirit of meekness and love, while the legalist has an attitude of pride and condemnation. The legalist doesn’t need to “examine himself” because he pretends he could never commit such a sin. But the believer, living by grace, realizes that no man is immune from falling. He has an attitude of humility because he realizes his own weaknesses. Verse 2 talks about “The law of Christ.” What’s that? “Love one another.” It takes a great deal of love and courage for us to approach a sinning brother and try to help him. If your brother sins against you, go talk to him privately, not for the purpose of winning an argument, but for the purpose of winning your brother. It’s important to win the lost, but it’s also important to win back the saved. The legalist has no time for this kind of spiritual soul-winning. When he hears that his brother has sinned, instead of going to the brother, he spreads the sad news, maybe disguised as a prayer request and then condemns the brother for not being more spiritual. Remember, the legalist makes himself look better by making his brother look worse. But such comparisons are sinful and deceptive. It’s easy to find somebody worse off than we are so that our comparison makes us look better than we really are. Christian love wouldn’t lead us to expose our brother’s failures or weaknesses, no matter how much better it would make us look. A believer should “examine his own work” in the light of God’s will and not in the shadows of somebody else’s achievements. There’s no place for competition in the work of God. We should be able to rejoice at the achievements and blessings of others just as if they were our own. In verses 6-10, Paul describes the second ministry that we ought to practice as believer.