Journal Gal 6 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “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.
But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor—for each will have to bear his own load.” Gal 6:1-5
Observation: I wonder what Paul is getting at? Could it be (gasp) that some are exercising lordship over another brother due to a perceived strength over a perceived weakness?
This doesn’t happen today, does it? Oh, yes it does….
Analysis: Here is Paul problem solving at Galatia.
There are some obvious issues:
- Transgressions in the Church? Oh, yeah. See the previous chapters about what Paul was trying to address.
- Attempts at restoration? Looks like it, attempts anyway…
- Gentle or heavy handed? Not too much gentleness, heavy handed is firmly implied.
How about not remembering the Gospel? It is right there, plainly referenced.
I have been on both sides of the circumstances that Paul describes: Stumbling or flat failing in my walk? I may have been already crushed and here comes a brother, standing over me haughtily, little to no compassion being shown; Presented with a brother who is having issues? Well, here I am exercising so-called “leadership”, talking down, because “I am so mature in Christ.”
Been there, done that. So, what should I take away from this?
1) No one is above another when it comes to the Gospel. We all have sinned; we all deserve the Wrath of God because of our sin. Salvation is only found by faith in Jesus’ work on the Cross for our Atonement. Paul is plain spoken: “…if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, deception reigns!”
2) I am an equal follower of Christ to another. I walk aside, not over. “Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work WITH you FOR your joy…” (2 Cor 1:24)
3) My goal is to think about and take action to support another in the Faith: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” (Heb 10:24)
To be clear: I will stand before the Throne on my little own lonesome, with all the criteria to talk about only what God wants to bring up. How I conduct myself within the local Church counts for something and is a part of His Purpose.
To the face in the mirror: Beware of being “bossy” in my Christianity.
Prayer: Father, you have so much wisdom. You gave me a wife whom you used to challenge my perceptions of leadership in Christ. You taught me to be trusting in You. You taught me to be faithful in your Word. You taught me to be gentle and persistent but not obnoxious. You taught me to be persevering and far-sighted. Did I remember gentle?
A beautiful statute is not made with a sledgehammer, it is made with a chipping tool. Likewise are disciples made…AMEN.