6Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if any one thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5For each man will have to bear his own load.
6Let him who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.
7Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. 10So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Caring Relationships is about walking with others, responding to their needs, desiring their well-being. It is about walking with people in tragedy, and rejoicing in their triumphs. Caring relationships allow people to be real in their stories, without hiding, and loving every imperfect part of them. Caring relationships come through a carefully cultivated environment that is sincere in being the household of God. Caring Relationships are not easy because, well…it involves people, amiright?
Paul, himself, personally knew the problems and challenges that arise in any Christian society, particularly if we call it by the name church. While we serve a perfect Christ, we are an imperfect people. The best of saints, men and women slip up. The word Paul uses in verse one saying, “If someone is caught in a sin”, is “paraptoma”. Which does not mean deliberate, intentional sin. But it means a slip as might come from one losing their footing on an icy pavement which they refer to as black ice on the East Coast. One losing their footing on a slick surface of a liquid spill. One losing their footing slipping down a walkway or some steps. Slipping carries with it the connotation of a fall by accident. To use a common phrase, “we all fall down.”
And the danger Paul recognized, even possibly within himself, because we believe ourselves to be spiritually mature, and beyond slipping, is that we can often be led to judge the fall of others, caused by a slip, too harshly, without exercising any kind of compassion. We can be tempted to compare them with our own sense of spiritual maturity, therefore we falsely believe that if we have come this far in our faith and practice so should they. Lord have mercy.
And so, one of the freedoms the Lord has delivered us from is the freedom of judgement. Jesus taught His disciples, “Judge not that you be not judged, for with what measure you judge others, you will be judged.” When we set ourselves up as the standard by which we expect others to also live, and demonstrate their faith, we are on a slippery slope ourselves. Because God is the only One who is perfect in all His ways. God alone knows the condition of a human heart. And why one does what they do, or fails to do. SO we are encouraged to leave judgement to God, and we do the best we can to love one another as God in Christ has demonstrated His love to us.
But Paul says, that if anyone does make a slip, the real Christian duty is not to judged them but to help them get back on their feet. One translation reads of Paul’s advice for one who has slipped, “we are to restore that person with gentleness , and as we help to restore them, help them get back on their feet, we are to think about ourselves, in case we too should be tempted.” The word he uses for ‘correct’ in the NIV its ‘restore’.
The stress of the word ‘correct’ is not on punishment but on cure. It’s a word used for doing a repair on something that has been damage, or what a surgeon would do in setting a broken limb. In other words, helping to restore another believer in their faith should always remind us.
Good Christians slip in all kinds of ways, not by intention but many times, gradually, or as the years go by, or maybe during a crisis or a tragedy and before we know it we have slipped and fallen. It could happen to anyone. But the Lord has never condemned us when we have slipped, God merely looks beyond our faults, through the lens of His work at the Presbyterian Church at Woodbury and makes provision for our needs.
Adam and Eve slipped. Abraham slipped. Sarah slipped. Jacob slipped. Rebecca slipped. Moses slipped. Samson slipped. David slipped. Jonah slipped. Peter slipped. Paul slipped. Seems that everyone God has ever used has slipped at some time in their lives, as well as in their service to the Lord. Disobedience. Drunkenness. Adultery. Lying tongue. Murder. Denial. Trickery and deceit. Running away from one’s responsibility. The bible is filled with stories of those who have slipped, in their walk with the Lord. Perhaps to remind us that are not beyond slipping up ourselves. So that no matter who we are we should think so highly of ourselves that we do not believe we are subject to slipping up.
But the Grace of God is all about reminding us that In the Lord, our slip-ups don’t have to be our hang-ups, but our slip-ups can deepen our humility to be ever thankful to the Lord and live by the motto, “There but by the Grace of God go I. It could have been me.” We could have been the one everybody else is talking about. We could have been the one whose name was in the newspapers, Facebook, or on the gossip hotline. And if the truth be told, in many cases it was us, but Grace, took a slip-up and transformed it into an opportunity for growth and discovery.
Notice how Paul links our propensity to fall, to slip-up, to fall down, with the admonition to bear one another’s burdens and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. Everyone has a point of burden. Everyone has something on them that they cannot carry by themselves. Try to carry your burden by yourself and you might just crack up. Try to carry your burden on your own, and you might just crumble under the weight of the burden. Try to carry your burden by yourself and you may not find any relief.
This faith was designed by the Lord himself to be shared. We are called community because no person is an island to themselves. And Paul uses the word burden in two ways in this text. They must have had this judging thing really bad because in verse 4-5 he reminds them once again about the danger of comparing, “But let each one examine his her own work, and then they will have rejoicing in themselves alone and not in another. For each one shall bear his/her own load.” Which is Paul’s advice; that instead of considering what someone else is doing or not doing, we should pay attention to whether or not we are doing all we can do based upon God’s calling upon our life and how He has gifted us.
And there are some responsibilities, burdens which God has placed upon us that no one else can carry for us. We have to punch our own clock in giving the best of our time, talent and finances to the Lord’s work. We have to study to show ourselves approved as men and women who are not ashamed of what we know about this Gospel. We can’t live our faith on what someone else has studied. We need one another’s intercessory prayers, but we have to develop our own prayer life and prayer garden. There are some burdens we have to carry for ourselves.
But then as Paul has stated there are those burdens that we were not meant to carry alone. We need each other. When sickness comes. When tragedy comes. When a reversal in secure finances comes. When we slip-up. And a host of other burdens comes. We ought not be too proud to ask for some help. But let’s go back to verse 2 where Paul says, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We need Caring Relationships!
Was not the law of Christ summed up in His words to His disciples, in the Gospel of John: “This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you?” His love for us moved Him to bear our burden of all sins on the Cross. Yes, “God laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” His love for us moved him to invite anyone and everyone regardless of their burden, no matter how ugly, ungodly, or heavy, His love for us, moved Him to invite us to bring our burdens to Him. Jesus is our burden bearer. Jesus knows all about our troubles.
And so Paul’s advice out of this text is that if Jesus touched us with the intent of lifting our load, our burden, then shouldn’t we who are called by His name reach out to each other with the same intent? There are those who don’t have time to judge other people because they are too busy trying to help other people. Let us help other people through Caring Relationships. Walking with others, responding to their needs, desiring their well-being. It is about walking with people in tragedy, and rejoicing in their triumphs. Caring relationships allow people to be real in their stories, without hiding, and loving every imperfect part of them. Caring relationships come through a carefully cultivated environment that is sincere in being the household of God.
Commentary provided by Amy L.B. Peeler, Scott Hoezee, John Lentz, and Susan Quinantce.