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Studies in Galatians

Standing Fast In The Liberty By Which Christ Has Made Us Free (See 5:1)

Chapter 6:1-10

So this is how you fulfill the law of Christ!

In the constitutions of our churches there is a list of what members covenant to be and do for one another. Among other things of significance, they declare their willingness to be admonished if they become ensnared in some sinful practice. Usually a board of elders is asked to do this in behalf of the church, since they are deemed “spiritual”–mature in Christian understanding and imbued with an evangelical spirit.

What a challenging task this is!

How important that it be done in accord with “the law of Christ” and not in the manner of the Law of Moses, from which Christ has set us free (5:1)! Sinai was driven by carrot and stick; the purposes of Jesus are constrained by love (2 Corinthians 5:14).

In the concluding chapter of Galatians we have a fine handbook for our elders (and for any Christian who is minded to be the Lord’s instrument in “doing good” {6:9}). One board developed an approach that attempts to implement the principles we find here. Let’s see if you agree that it does.

Visiting A Brother/Sister “Caught in a Sin”

If, for example, a member has stopped worshiping and communing with the congregation, these elders start by saying how confident they are that this person would want to be functioning in these ways.

Something is preventing this. There is some obstacle. They have come to help identify it (some offense taken or given in pulpit or pew; physical or emotional ill health; financial embarrassment; poor motivation etc.).

Having done this, the elders talk about what might be done either to remove the obstacle or sumount it. Somewhat like the Minnesota farmer who refused to stop his plowing when he came to a large boulder. If he couldn’t move it, he would just plow around it. So they affirm their eagerness to share the burden of that person’s restoration. In manner they try to be kindly, gentle, modest and non-judgmental, yet–persuasive.

Imagine a pilgrim band making its way on a perilous path. One of the group slips off the road and into the ditch, spraining an ankle as he slides. According to the law of Christ one might expect that some faith-sibling would risk his own safety to reach, restore, and then take on the burden of that person’s backpack along with his own.

Such is beyond duty, and moved by a love which “seeks and saves.”

According to the Law of Christ

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load” (6:1-5 NIV).

In Due Season

True “doing good” is governed by the “law of Christ.” Therefore it . . .

1) gives priority to the needs of instruction in the word (6:1), funding the work of the gospel at home and abroad;

2) has a big heart, welcoming each opportunity to do good to anyone and everyone, yet giving special attention to the family of believers (6:10);

3) trusts that one will never suffer loss–long term–for charity done to please the Spirit (6:8);

4) dares to be generous, knowing that liberal sowing will be followed by a bountiful harvest (6:9).

To His Glory

The Law of Moses required acts of mercy and charity, yet gave one neither heart nor hands for cheerful doing. Paul shows that the law of Christ, which is Spirit-given love, leads to a level of service far beyond the requirements of duty or some legal code.

What good deeds we do willingly in faith are the sort which will–as Jesus said–cause those who see them to praise your Father in heaven (Mt. 5:16).

What an incentive for true “doing good”! Glory be to Jesus!

–Pastor Rollin A. Reim