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Thursday, February 6, 2020

2020.02.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 6:1-5

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call them in Galatians 6:1? What brothers need restoration? What brothers should do it? Why would only a specifically “spiritual” (cf. Galatians 5:23) brother be able to do it in the spirit commanded in verse 1? Considering the lists in Galatians 5:19-21 and Galatians 5:22-23, to what might the “spiritual” brother in verse 1 be “tempted,” and what is he supposed to be doing about it, while he restores his brother? How does the first half of Galatians 6:2 describe this effort of helping a brother out of the violation in which he has been caught up? What does this fulfill (cf. Galatians 5:14) in opposition to the temptation at the end of verse 1 (cf. Galatians 5:13-17)? What shouldn’t anyone think about himself (Galatians 6:3)? To whom should we be comparing whatever maturing in grace we have experienced (Galatians 6:4)? And, when each maturing believer considers himself before God, what does he still find (Galatians 6:5)?
There’s something that happens, when the Holy Spirit is maturing in us His multi-faceted fruit from Galatians 5:22-23. We become more and more supportive of our brothers, who believe in the same Christ, and walk by the same Spirit, and are engaged in the same battle.

This is why, when a brother is caught up in a violation (“overtaken in any trespass”), it really needs a brother who is marked by a spirit of gentleness to come alongside and help.

First, he must be a “spiritual” brother—that is that the helper himself is someone who walks with the Holy Spirit. How would someone who is not already in an alliance with the Holy Spirit against his own flesh enter rightly into an alliance with his brother, and that same Holy Spirit, against his brother’s flesh?

And, since both are sinners, it is especially the “gentleness” aspect of the Spirit’s fruit that is necessary for the process. This is needed for the sinner who is receiving the help, since when we are caught up in a sin, we are already primed for hostility and resistance to help. But it is also needed for the sinner who is giving the help, “considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

If we can’t enter into the process with the idea that we are alongside a weakened and wounded dear one, helping him bear up under the challenges of his battle, then we are not following that second great commandment—as Christ summarized it and was quoted in Galatians 5:14—“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” How self-deceiving—and, indeed, self-defeating—it would be if we were convinced that we were helping a brother with his flesh, in the very act of indulging our own (cf. Galatians 5:13-21)?!

The great red flag for us is if we think that we are something. The fact of the matter is that we are nothing. In Galatians 6:3, the apostle (and the Spirit who carried him!) was misaligned with the religious self-esteem gurus of our time. He bluntly tells us that we are nothing, and that any other conclusion or feeling is merely self-deception.

And the self-deception of feeling ourselves to be something is especially dangerous when trying to help a brother with his sin. If we do that, we will run afoul of Galatians 6:4, and rather than thanking God for His mercy as He grows us—who are nothing—in grace, we will end up feeling and praying like the Pharisee, “I thank you, God, that I am not like this other man.” Truly, if we are honest before the face of God, rather than self-deceivingly comparing ourselves to others, each of us will see our own load (Galatians 6:5), and not fall into that self-deception that we are qualified to bear our brother’s burden because our own burden is less.

God grant unto us to be continually engaged in battling our own flesh, so that our own weakness and dependence would be continuously before us! Thus continuously humiliated, the Spirit-fruit of gentleness will be ripening so that we may be useful to our brothers rather than harmful to both ourselves and to them.
What fleshly aspects have you been battling? How has this been emphasizing to you that you are nothing? In light of what this passage teaches: if you do start to feel that you are superior to a brother, what would be a good way to cultivate renewed humility and gentleness?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

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