Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bearing One Another's Burden

Churches exist today which emphasize the work of the Spirit can be identified audibly and/or visually in believers to testify that the "Spirit was in the house" on Sunday morning. But contrast that with Paul's teaching on the fruit of the Spirit. Having the fruit of the Spirit is more than a Sunday morning occurence. Paul encouraged them to love, walk in the Spirit and its fruit, and bear one another's burdens. Our lesson today focuses specifically on Gal 5:22-26; 6:1-10.

In the latter part of chapter 5, there is a sharp contrast between godliness (the Spirit) and the flesh. Paul reminded the Galatians of Jesus' law, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.' John 13:34-35 In this reminder he taught that without love for one another, there would be discord and backbiting. It would be necessary for them to walk in the Holy Spirit to remain in love instead of the flesh. As long as they are led of the Spirit, they will not be part of the law. They will be considered sons of God. See Gal 5:13-18 and Romans 8:1-14.

Paul contrasts the flesh through the works of the law in Gal 5:19-21. There are sins against commandments, neighbors, and their own persons. The list is not exhaustive because it states at verse 21 '...they which do such things...' Paul also warned them they would not inherit the the kingdom of God by practicing the justification of works.

They had a choice. They could plant the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Allow the Lord to abide and the fruit blossoms. 'I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.' John 15:5 What is the fruit? '...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Gal 5:22-23

How do we define the fruit? Love-brotherly love; goodwill. Joy-gladness. Peace-rest; quietness. Longsuffering-patience; endurance. Gentleness-integrity; kindness. Goodness-uprightness of heart and life; kindness. Faith-reliability; honesty; belief in Christ for salvation and trust in God; fidelity. Meekness-not easily provoked. Temperance-disciplined; self-control. Fruit such as these are under the Spirit and can not come under the law. Gal 5:18

'And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.' Those who belong to Christ have crucified everything that is not of the Spirit. Those who are Spirit-led in their walk are not those who "have more of Spirit." It really is where the Spirit has more of them. In order to "kill the flesh," we need to allow God to have more of us! Relinquish control and let Him have His way. How can we be Spirit-led if we are leading?

'Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.' Gal 5:26 Envy and pride will surely cause quarreling, discord, hurt feelings, etc in the church. Paul wanted the Galatians to continue in brotherly love as disciples in Christ. He addressed the situation as he knew envy and pride would not result in the fruit of the Spirit and would have a destructive effect. He did not intend to give an inch to the enemy of God.

'Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.' Gal 6:1-2 Paul encouraged us to gently restore those who sin and to guard against temptation. What good would you be to your Christian brother who is overtaken in sin if you are filled with envy, pride, and hatred? You would not be possessive of the fruit of the Spirit yourself. Your brother needs someone who is meek, able to listen to his problems nonjudgmentally, and not easily provoked. And all this must be done in the Spirit of love. If a Christian, who possesses the fruit of the Spirit, does not counsel another Christian in his time of need, he leaves him to the laws of the flesh/world.

Christians are never to have an attitude of self-importance. 'For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.' Gal 6:3-5 Don't ever get in the habit of believing you are something, when you are not. Do you actually believe you are all that plus a bag of chips? If you climbed the ladder of success thinking you made it in the world, God can pull you down. It will be His grace that will see you through. And you will have to face the judgment seat on an individual basis. Your judgment is never another's burden.

'Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.' Gal 6:6 Paul changed from his teaching on restoration and instructed the Galatians to share with their teachers the good things they had been blessed to receive. As ministers of God preach, teach, etc. through their appointment by God, it is the duty of those who are taught and blessed to contribute cheerfully to that ministry. This is interpreted in the context of "sowing and reaping." When teachers and ministers sow into the lives of others, it is expected that they will reap from the harvest.

'Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever, a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.' Gal 6:7-8 God knows our hearts. To that person who is taught and does not believe it is necessary to sow in the ministry of their preacher or teacher, remember God is watching the entire process. Paul warned the Galatians they could not deceive or mock God. Whatever seed they planted, they would reap. If they planted and nourished a seed of flesh (pleasures), they would harvest corruption and reap a life of everlasting damnation. If they planted and nourished the seed in the Spirit (fruit), they would harvest access to God and eternal life.

'And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore, opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.' Gal 6:9-10 Don't fret, don't faint, don't stop sowing because reaping is a sure thing. It is time to reap when the season has arrived for harvesting. Therefore, it is best to sow all good things to all men, especially believers.

Sow in the fruit of the Spirit. Reap a godly harvest of eternal life.

Written by Deborah C. Davis

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