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MESSAGE FOR SUNDAY, 26/06/2022

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Reading:
Galatians 6:1-16

Text:
Galatians 6:10 “Therefore as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Message:
Dietrich Bonhoeffer says in his book “Life Together” “Just as the Christian should not be constantly feeling his spiritual pulse, so, too, the Christian community has not been given to us by God for us to be constantly taking its temperature. The more thankfully we daily receive what is given to us, the more surely and steadily will fellowship increase and grow from day to day as God pleases.”

When we open our life to Jesus Christ we are no longer on our own; we are now part of a family, God’s family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. The Christian life is meant to be shared together. Jesus knew that the life He was calling His disciples to would be difficult and that none of us could do this on our own. So He established His church and designed it to function in community. We would be totally dependent upon Him but also upon one another. It is in the Christian community that we find the encouragement and support to press on to the higher calling of Jesus. As brothers and sisters in Christ we are not strangers or even mere friends. We are family and owe each other more than we are comfortable to give. So in doing life together we find.

1. Restoring

Verse 1: We all make mistakes, and we need to learn from our mistakes. However, in most cases we need the help of our Christian brothers and sisters to get us back on the right path. That has happened to all of us right? We all have fallen off time sometimes. Whatever the circumstances, Paul is calling believers to bear the burden of that brother’s and sister’s failure, not to add to it. The community should take upon itself to restore such a person because this is one way a family expresses its love. How are we to do it? Paul says gently. Gently means gentleness of attitude and behavior, in contrast with harshness in one’s dealings with others. The quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance or superiority.

Notice now the second half of verse 1: “Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Here Paul warns us about common temptations we all face when we learn about another person’s sin. We are either tempted to ignore the sin, or we are tempted to gossip about the sin, or we are tempted to use their sin to inflate our own sense of righteousness. But none of these is the right response. Therefore, Paul warns us to look at ourselves because we could be tempted to fall into the same sin as that brother or sister.

Paul lays out the priority and purpose of these actions. It’s not about intimacy and being nice. It is about a restoration to holiness. It is about living Spirit filled lives. It is about our walk with Christ and walk with holiness. We are to restore them gently who have sinned. The word translated “restore ” here is a medical term in Greek. It’s the word used to describe setting a broken bone or dislocated joint. Brothers and sisters, God wants us to be ready to heal, not judge one another. If I learn about a brother or sister struggling with sin, I want to come alongside that person and help them bear the weight of their weakness and shame.

For this is the way to obey the law of Christ. The law is to love one another as I have loved you. so we must love each other as Christ loves us. Unfortunately, all too often, we don’t help each other like we should. Paul warns us about this by saying, “If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. One of the chief reasons many Christians do not bother to help fellow Christians is that they feel superior to sinners and wrongly consider themselves to be spiritually something, when the truth is they are really nothing.

The Christian who thinks they are something when they are nothing needs help in facing their own sin before they can be qualified to help anyone else out of a sin. We first need to take the log out of our own eye. Paul warns us against thinking too highly about ourselves. Paul’s instruction for us as we restore a fellow Christian in sin is that we must keep an eye on ourselves in case we fall into temptation. What is the temptation Paul is referring to here? It’s the sin of pride when we compare ourselves to another. As we see a fellow Christian struggling with temptation is to think that compared to them, we are doing much better. As we help to carry another Christian’s burden, we are tempted to think that we are a much better Christian because of it. Perhaps even thinking we are above sin.

If we refuse to see our own spiritual need we fool ourselves and are useless in serving God or in helping fellow believers. Our first responsibility is to examine ourselves to be sure our own attitude and life are right in the eyes of the Lord before we attempt to give spiritual help to others. Not aggressive or confrontational and not judgmental but gently and lovingly and praying with them. We are involved in each other’s lives. Living together then as Christians means we are to take sin seriously in other’s lives and also in our own lives.

2. Helping each other

Verse 2: “Share each other’s burdens and in this way obey the law of Christ”. Share one another’s burdens refers to heavy loads that are too difficult to lift and carry for a person. Troubles and problems are too heavy to carry. It could be financial problems, temptations, it could be all kinds of problems. We must help share the loads that others find too heavy to carry alone. We must not consider it a burden to help another carry their burden but a joy.

The Christian, however, must bear the burden of a brother. He must suffer and endure the brother. It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated. Living together means we need to help pick up one another when we fall. It means that we are gently to help one another towards the goal of becoming like Jesus. We help one another with our weaknesses in a way that we would someone else to help us. We should do it in an encouraging way, in a way that picks one another up rather than putting one another down.

Verse 3: We see the self-deception here when we think we are something because then we will not bear one another’s burdens. Because when you think you are something it leads us to believe that some things are beneath us. When it comes to that kind of “something” we have to know we are really “nothing”. None of us is righteous in all we do. None of us is better than another. None of us is invulnerable to sin’s attacks.

Listen, a burden-bearing heart, a heart that is ready, with gentleness, to help shoulder the weight of a brother or sister’s struggle, that heart is one humbled by its own “nothingness” because of sin. If you are more tempted to ignore, gossip about, or judge those struggling with sin, you better carefully consider whether or not you wrongly think you are “something”.

3. Sharing all good things

One of the most important things we learn about the early church was that they shared everything. The early church had an all for one, one for all mentality. They shared everything in common. Paul first admonition prescribed was to support their Christian teachers. These teachers were full time in preaching and teaching. So they were to provide for the teachers’ needs. Paul also talks about mutuality not of one party serving or providing for the other but both parties sharing together. The words of Paul remind us that the gospel makes us generous and kind because we who have been given so much have the resources to do so. So living together as Christians means doing good to all.

Paul also knows it is hard to do good. We become weary of doing good. Paul motivates us to keep going when he says in verses 7-8 “A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please their sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life. We can deceive each other and even ourselves about our motives and attitudes for giving, we cannot deceive God”. The stewardship of our resources can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. When we share with others we indicate the condition of our hearts. When our hearts are right with God that overflows in our lives and is reflected by our willingness to share with others.

When we disregard the needs of others and care only for ourselves it shows that our hearts need to be softened. God blesses us so we can be a blessing to others. God has blessed us beyond measure and meets all of our needs. None of us here today are without food or clothes. In return we are to be a blessing to others. We need to reach out to the needy. We are to give to others with the measure, which God has blessed us. The challenge and aim for the Christian should not be how much we can accumulate and achieve, but really how much of ourselves we can give away.

4. Do not give up doing good

As Christians we must consider that the Christian life is not a sprint but a marathon. Paul makes this clear when he said, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” To continue the analogy of sowing and reaping, a farmer will have no harvest to reap if he becomes too weary to labor in the fields or if he gives up altogether. The harvest will not reap itself. Every aspect of farming, planting, maintaining, and finally the harvesting takes hard work. So, too, believers must not become discouraged and give up when they follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, grow spiritually, and do good for God’s Kingdom. While it may seem at times like a losing battle, we are assured that we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.

So Paul says, “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith.” Every time we have the opportunity to do good, we should do it. The timing for doing good is always right. The opportunity is not optional. We are to treat it as strategically placed by God in our path. Our settings may continually change, but each one will bring a fresh opportunity for helping and serving. God calls believers to do good to everyone, believers and nonbelievers alike.

Some fields may be very difficult to “work” but our purpose should be to sow goodness anyway. Do not give up no matter what life throws at you. God does not care about what you have done, nor what you can do and can do for Him. He has set His heart on you before the world began and He has provided his Son to do for us what we cannot do ourselves. Gal. 6 contains a charge to bear burdens of those around us and do good, but the power and strength to bear the burdens of another is only found in Christ, who first bore not only our burdens but our sins and the consequences of it.

1 Cor. 15:57-58. If you feel like giving up, keep moving forward. If you feel like life is against you, keep believing. If you feel like no one is listening, keep pressing on. God has promised never to leave you or forsake you. He has promised to give you the victory. Don’t give up because God will never give up on you.

The bottom line is we are in this together, we are our brother and sisters’ keeper. We cannot do it alone, we need each other. “A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together.