Last week we looked at the freedom from sin and worldly ties that are available to us as Christians. This week we will continue looking at the letter Paul wrote to the church in Galatia and realize that another benefit of Christianity is belonging. We humans are not created to be separated from others. We are by nature communal creatures. As early and Adam, God knew that man by himself was not complete. Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18 NASB) Some of us see that we thrive on being near our families. The continuity of life flows through us as we celebrate being near and welcoming our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. We welcome the addition of husbands and wives being added to our family as we watch those children bring new love and energy into the family. Each new addition, whether through marriage or birth, adds a new individual with similarities and differences. Yet, in total, the family grows and still reflects the common thread that traces its origins back to Adam and Eve.
The church is no different. We are a community of believers who have been called out of this world by the Holy Spirit and have become a part of God’s church. We have talked about the early days of the church and the joys of sharing with each other as seen in the pages of Luke’s history of the early church-Acts. This morning we will continue our look at Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia.
Over the past three weeks, we have seen that all the barriers that separated us from God (sin, nationality, etc.) have been broken down and removed by God’s grace as revealed in Jesus. Thus, we are now allowed to become children of God (Galatians 3:29) and inherit the promise to Abraham and his descendants. We have learned that because the Holy Spirit lives in us, we are free to live that abundant life Jesus spoke of in John 10:10. That abundant life yields the fruit that is evidence that we are connected to God. In fact, as we bear more of this fruit, we will be more Christ like.
This morning, we will continue our look at this letter to the Galatians as we see that, as Christians, we are a part of a community. Let’s open our Bibles to the 6th chapter of Galatians as we begin.
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. (Galatians 6:1-5 NASB)
Just prior to this discussion of those who are spiritual, Paul talked about those who live lives reflecting love, joy, peace, patience, and the rest. Now, he turns to those who falter. Sometimes, people start out to live a Christian life and fall back into old habits and old sins. Paul encourages those who are spiritual to help restore the fallen brother or sister.
This is to be done with all humility. Failure to approach someone in a sinful situation in the proper manner presents risks. First, we might be pulled into the same or similar sin. If we are not producing spiritual fruit, if we are not mature in our faith, we run the risk of becoming ensnared in sin.
Before we reach out to help another, did you notice Paul tell us to examine ourselves? That moment of honest self-appraisal stops us from doing more harm than good. I am reminded of Jesus talking about pausing to remove that log from our eye before we attempt to remove a small speck from someone’s eye.
Helping another is a humbling time. We realize that we too might become entangled in wrong and we seek to help. This is a community spirit. We each help each other. We realize that within a community, there are various strengths and weaknesses that present in each of us. Together, we form a stronger unit. We see the concept of many members but one body in 1st Corinthians the 12th chapter.
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Corinthians 12:12-26 NASB)
The church is here compared to a body. There are many members Each member has its strength and weakness. Each member has its own abilities and tasks to perform. Yet, all of the various members are form the whole. It is the ultimate idea of synergy. Together, we achieve more than we can achieve independently.
As a community, we reach out to help those who are weaker. Yet, we do so with a gentle spirit and with the same meekness that we find in Jesus.
The first section has to do with the spiritually strong helping those who are in need of help to overcome sin. The next section addresses the material nature of this world. Materialism seems to be extremely great in the world today. However, it has always been around. There are many scriptures that address the love of money and the treasures we save up. Paul knows that materialism will kill the vine on which spiritual fruit grows. The love of money will choke out the spiritual fruit.
If God has blessed us with the material goods of this world, then we are enjoined to use that wealth properly. Let’s return to Galatians 6 and begin in verse 6.
The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. (Galatians 6:6-10 NASB)
In these few verses, Paul gives us three uses of the money we may have at our disposal. First, we are to support those who teach the gospel. This goes far beyond paying the local preacher. It points to supporting all those who teach others about Christ. We have an obligation to help preachers and teachers reach all of the lost souls with the message of salvation. If we have been blessed because someone shared the word, we are to help others receive the same blessing.
Second, we are to use our material resources to built up the Spiritual life rather than to simply feed our flesh. Money spent to help others grow spiritually is well spent However, spending money for flashy extravagance is not helping others. It will draw them to believe the shell is more that the content. Think about an Easter egg. Pretty on the outside but the true value of the egg is not the shell.
Third, we are to spend money to help others. There are many people in need of financial assistance and we should use the resources we have to help those in need.
The overarching reality is that our material wealth is used to glorify God. God will not be mocked when it come to how we use the goods with which He has blessed us.
In all of this chapter, there is a common theme. It is that we are (the church) a community. We live and thrive and we are individuals who depend on others. We support each other in the bad times and in the good times. We share the material goods. We reach out to lend a helping hand both literally and figuratively. Our ability to do these things requires that live in and be connected to the community. We cannot properly fulfil the mission of the church by living in a vacuum.
Are you a part of the family of God? Are you a member of this community? In order to live the abundant life, we must be connected to the vine where we receive all the care, support, and blessings. Separated from the community we will wither and die.