Burden Bearing Brothers

Galatians 6:1-3, 7-10, ESV

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he 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. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Galatians 6 is just another example of how God’s Word paints the perfect balance between two extremes. We are commanded to restore sinning brothers and sisters in a spirit of gentleness. However, Paul warns us strongly to watch our own lives, lest while we are correcting someone else, we ourselves are in sin. The aspect of the spirit of gentleness is reinforced with verse three, where we are warned against coming to that situation with a proud “better-than-thou” attitude. God is not fooled when we are hypocritical; He sees through to our heart, and we will be rewarded accordingly.

The overall theme of this passage is doing good to others out of a Spirit-filled heart. This is evidenced in verse two by “bear[ing] one another’s burdens.” God, through Paul, tells us that showing love in this way to another brother or sister in Christ is fulfilling the law of Christ. We are told in verse nine that a motivation for doing good to our brothers and sisters in Christ is that, in God’s time, we will be rewarded by Him. Often, it’s so easy to just get tired of loving others. Even as Christians, we often are not the easiest people to love. But God promises that we will be rewarded if we don’t grow tired and give up.

So what does it mean for me to bear someone’s burden? Before I can love someone else, I have to stop loving myself. That means that I must make the decision to put my Christian brother’s or sister’s needs before my own. This isn’t easy, but as we put to death our flesh and its desires, we are able to replace it with love for God and other people. Practically, that likely means that you’ll be out of your comfort zone at times. Especially when your dealing with that person…you know, the one who just seems to annoy you every time you see him/her. Spirit-filled love asks how I can meet the needs of that person. Sometimes meeting the needs of others requires us to give of our time, resources, emotion, and prayer. As we’re remind in the passage though, no cost is too great. We have an opportunity to show our love for Christ by obeying Him, and we also have the promise that we will be rewarded by Him. May we fulfil the law of Christ as we show love in a practical way to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Forever Friend

Friends are a gift from God. It’s incredible to me that one human being can make such an impact in the life of another human being, for good or evil. These people we call “friends” become important to us. We often let their opinions dictate our thoughts and actions. Our friends’ companionship is extremely valuable to us. But we each have that one or two people who we like to describe as “forever friends.” These friends are the ones that we are extremely close with, and it seems as if we will be friends forever.

Yet, we often find that even these so-called “forever friends” are not really friends forever. Sometimes there is a falling out for one reason or another. Other times we and these friends just gradually go our own ways. At times, though we still are close, time and opportunity have an impact on our ability to maintain those friendships. Regardless of the reason, loss of a friendship (or reduction of friendship, as the case may be sometimes) is a difficult thing.

When these things happen, our response is often to feel alone, to be upset, or to feel sorry for ourselves. These responses may be what we feel, but to respond in these ways is to lose perspective on life. As incredible as these “forever friends” relationships are to have, they are only a distorted picture of the relationship we have with our true forever Friend. We have to be careful not to trade the reality for the picture. Even a friend who is a “forever friend” faces the limitations that human beings have. But we have a Friend who loves us more than any friend ever could, Who has more power to intervene on our behalf than any other man, Who never does anything that is not in our best interests, and Who walks with us every step of the way, both through life and through eternity.

How then should we respond to losing friendships? When we feel alone or angry, we must choose to turn to Jesus. We must run to Him and His Word. We must pray and share our hurts with Him. And we absolutely must believe that He is present and in control of every situation in our lives. Just as our earthly friends influence our lives in so many ways, we ought to be motivated to act in a certain way because He has chosen us as His friends. We have been given an incredible privilege to be called friends of Jesus. May we always turn to Him, the true forever Friend.

“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15, ESV)

A Life of Death

Death is unavoidable. Because of Adam’s sin, death is the inheritance of every human being. For those who are do not have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, death and the judgment that follows death are something to be feared. Yet, for those of us who are believers, death is nothing more than the blessed point in time where we step out of this sinful world and step into the presence of our Savior.

However, in a different sense, we as believers are called to die each day. 1 Peter 2:24 says,

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” (ESV)

Christ took our sin upon Himself. What an amazing thought! We are free from sin! Because Christ died for our sin, we are called to die to our sin. Death to sin alone, however, is not enough. We must die to sin, and live to righteousness. Our lives must be a pattern of righteousness. In Galatians 5:22-23, we see the fruit of the Spirit. The things that are to characterize us as believers are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But the first step to making these things a part of our lives is found in the next verse. Galatians 5:24-25 says,

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (ESV)

In order to live by the Spirit and see the fruit mentioned in the previous verses, we must first crucify the flesh. We have incredible, abundant life in Jesus Christ! And the only way to truly enjoy this life that we have is to practice a life of death.

Hearers vs. Doers

Matthew 7:24-27

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Would you consider yourself to be the wise man? I have to admit, every time I’d heard this story as a child in Sunday school, I’d always just assumed that I was the wise man because I was the one at church. I guess I assumed that the foolish man must have been a really bad guy. Fast-forward fifteen years to the present, and I hadn’t changed much. Rather, I had just put faces to this “foolish man”. I have people in my life that I find it easy to point fingers at and say “They are not doing what they know is right, they must be the fools!” Yet this passage never specified that the difference between the wise man and the foolish man was merely a desire to do right. The difference between these two was not simply that the wise man loved God’s Word and the foolish man didn’t. The distinguishing factor between the wise man and the foolish man is simply acting on the Word. James 1:22 echos this imperative when it states, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” The reality is that I can be in the Word each day and the Holy Spirit can convict me of things on a regular basis, but until God’s Word becomes an integral part of who I am to the end that I live it, I am nothing more than that foolish man. May God grant us all as believers His grace and empowerment, that we may become doers of His Word!