Friday, August 4, 2017

Blogging Bible Study week 10 - Galatians 6: 1 - 18

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I'm second guessing my decision to cover all of Chapter 6  in one discussion; it seems to me to be a collection of last-minute thoughts Paul wanted to share with the folks in Galatia.  He's communicated to them the message that he felt compelled to share, but, you  know how it is when you're conversing with someone you don't see often -- there's always a few other points that need to be made while you have their attention. 

So it is with Paul.  Chapter 6 is not so much a straightforward argument, as it has been throughout the book, but a collection of choice morsels to ponder.  And each of those morsels could be a complete teaching in and of itself.  But I have determined to stick to the syllabus, so buckle up for a kind of bounce-around discussion...

He begins with church discipline...what do you do when a member of the body falls into sin?

The spiritual folks should restore that person gently, he instructs. But there's a warning...watch out, lest you be tempted yourself.

That's a real danger.  Sin is sticky stuff, and it's designed to trap humans.  Think of the big names of years past, who, in their work against sin...be it pornography, addictions, whatever...fell into that very behavior themselves.  It was shocking, because they worked so hard against it.   It's a serious danger, and we need to take it very seriously.  Verse 3 -- if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  We truly are nothing...we don't have the ability, in and of ourselves, to deal with such things.  Only through the grace and power of the Spirit can we fight those battles.  Doing it for the wrong reasons, with the wrong motives, from a position of self-deception that we can handle it is the recipe for disaster.

There is a bit of a conundrum: in verse 2, Paul writes, Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ; and then in verse five he turns right around and says each one should carry his own load.  Um....

So, to the lexicons...

'Burdens' in v. 2 is baros -- which means 'weight' but can also mean a load, abundance.  IE, something that 's too much for them. 'Load' in v. 5 is phortion - which is primarily 'an invoice' but can also mean a burdensome task or service, which hit me as the idea that it is an obligation one must fulfill.  Here's my take: if you see a fellow believer struggling to carry a burden that is clearly too much for them, help them out.  But there are duties and obligations that you alone can fulfill and you need to take care of those.  The context for that is in not comparing oneself to others...what they are doing or not doing...so that we don't judge ourselves as better or more oppressed or any other comparison, because we truly don't know what's going on in all aspects of another person's life.  Don't let your obligations slide because of how you perceive another person handling theirs.

There are a few more last minute instructions.

Share good things with those who instruct you well.  (Comments are good things, btw...lol).

He points out that reaping follows sowing, and what was planted is what is yielded. This logically leads to one of my favorite promises:
Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Verse 9)
This implies, of course, that we should do good every time we have a chance and be especially looking to do good to those who are also believers.

But Paul can't say good-by without one last comment on his main topic; he marvels at his handwriting, which reminds him of why he was so urgently compelled to take up the pen himself.  He states that those folks who are trying to get them to follow the Jewish rules are doing it not because they really care about the Gentiles who are coming to the faith, but because it's the politically correct thing to do amongst their cronies and they can brag about the number of converts they've made.  Paul, on the other hand, is not interested in bragging about anything, except what Jesus has done.  And he sums up his argument one last time:

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. - v. 15.

I'm going to wander off into a bit of commentary here, because I see so much of this kind of thing today.  How many people came forward...how many were baptized...etc.  Now there's nothing wrong with folks coming to an altar, or being baptized, for sure, but there are people who put their confidence in those actions, rather than in what Jesus did, just as those Galatians were putting their confidence in following the Jewish laws.  Those things, in and of themselves, really don't mean anything.  Because what counts is a new creation.  Did the person really yield themselves to follow Jesus?  Or were they just going through a religious ritual?  Hard questions...but they matter.

...what counts is a new creation.

And Paul leaves his readers to ponder that.

Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God...The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Yes and amen.