This teaching is directed to people who have decided to follow Jesus. Not on whim, this is that lifetime commitment thing, where you are drawn by the Holy Spirit to get really, really, close to Jesus and His ways of living.
The first sentence got my attention. I’m dealing with this very issue, ‘for reals’ as the young people like to say these days in my work community.
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Life Together in Christian community compels me to be engaged with my brothers and sisters. It is the fabric of an authentic Christ centered life. In that engagement Paul comments on what that looks like for the church in Galatia. But, I see this as for the church today. Paul’s letter intertwines both warnings and encouragements to any disciple of Christ. It assumes that in the body of Christ there is sin and that some of us will be called to engage with others in that conflict. Through the Spirit we will be agents to restore someone in our community. Here’s one warning, and this is important do not lose sight that you to can be ensnared while helping a brother/sister caught in sin. One tool to avoid ensnarement is to “Carry each other’s burdens”.
In several places Paul warns Jesus followers that our basis for any action needs to be genuine, come from a place of humility and Spirit led. Another warning. We could easily perform our actions from the ‘flesh’. In the Kingdom of God one approach leads to eternal life (Spirit Led) and the other (flesh) doesn’t. And yet, Paul’s implies that in our personal will, “…don’t become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” hmmmm. Paul goes on to say we are opportunists for doing good for ‘all people’ and especially our brothers and sisters. Discerning when its our own personal will rather than an action requested by the Spirit is a critical ability for the Jesus follower.
I chuckled out loud, when Paul writes, “See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!” It’s funny to think this was the ancient version of ALL CAPS that people might use in an email to shout out. This is important! Paul emphasizes the dangers of the flesh, I’m taking this to be living a rule based/checklist lifestyle. The ‘look at me aren’t I a good person’ lifestyle vs. pointing to and leaning into Jesus as a new creation in Christ.