Spiritual Obligations - Galatians 6:1-5

Spiritual Obligations

As a parent, I can still remember the joy of seeing my children as toddlers trying to take their first steps. Coming alongside them and helping them progress in their development was a joy and lasting memory for me.

As they grew in their physical maturity, they became more independent in their gross motor skills, but they still required a parent to help them along. As a parent, we have the innate obligation to care for and groom our children who are less mature than us.

The same is for us and our spiritual maturity. We are obligated to other Christians around us to help them if they struggle with their walk in Christ. We are to bear one another’s burdens since we are all children of God.

Galatians 6:1-5
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.

In Paul’s final chapter of his epistle to the Galatians, he builds on the practical application of being led by the Spirit and turning from legalism. He uses the phrase “you who are spiritual.” He is not referring to an elite level of Christianity that is much higher and better in God’s eyes. No, Paul is referring to those who have more spiritual maturity. They may have been Christians longer or are stronger in certain areas.

In our recent home fellowship group, we discussed spiritual maturity in James 1. Spiritual maturity comes with the active practice and ‘doing’ of God’s Word rather than just hearing. Maturity comes through being steadfast in Christ despite the trials we may face. We also saw this in 1 Peter 4. God grows us through trials and hardships to strengthen us in the Holy Spirit.

Coming back to Galatians, being ‘more spiritual’ means living and walking according to the Holy Spirit. We saw in Galatians 5 that we are to be led by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides us and provides that intimate relationship with Him. Therefore, when actively walking with the Holy Spirit, the byproducts of our personal relationship are the “Fruits of the Spirit.”

So, those who are more ‘spiritually mature’ are to come alongside the Christians who are struggling with a sense of calmness and restore the spirit of gentleness. Demonstrate that trials are God’s way of strengthening our relationship. Or, if sin is the issue, help them overcome that sin in Christ and turn from their ways by approaching the issue with love and meekness. Paul says to restore the spirit of gentleness, meaning that we aren’t tearing them down but providing constructive criticism and helping them find their way back. These Christians may have fallen and are struggling, but Paul calls us to restore and build up, not to destroy and tear down.

Paul gives the spiritually mature a warning. He also encourages those who are helping other Christians in their struggles with sin not to be caught up in sin. We need to understand our own weaknesses and approach the matter with gentleness and self-awareness in the Holy Spirit. As Christians struggle and are being weighed down by these spiritual burdens, it is our obligation to come alongside and help them along. We are children of God, and we are all in this together. Remember that we are all justified by faith and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We will all struggle and sin because that is our human nature. However, we are not to approach with pride and a sense that we are better Christians than others. We are deceiving ourselves because that is sin. Pride blinds us to our arrogance. But bear one another’s burdens with love and humility.

How are we not to help others through pride? We are to test or self-examine ourselves. We must ensure that the reason for doing things is through love and being led by the Holy Spirit. It is not a competition or a need to compare ourselves with others. If we help others because it makes us feel good about ourselves, are we doing it for God or for ourselves? Acts of service are a blessing to others, but when we do them, and our heart is not truly in it, we deceive ourselves. It is easy to serve and put a facade in place that demonstrates a shell of a ‘good Christian,’ but that shell is empty and not what God wants for our lives. God desires our hearts to be filled with love and the Holy Spirit. So, let us self-examine our hearts and ensure we are serving and helping others because it is the byproduct of our spiritual maturity, active walk, and living in the Holy Spirit.

Finally, Paul says that we need to carry our own load. But didn’t Paul just say that we need to bear one another’s burdens? Yes, but the word he uses here in verse 5 equates more to a soldier’s pack. We must carry the load required for our personal walk in the Holy Spirit. The load that houses the essentials for our survival as Christians. That personal load is our faith. No one can carry our salvation for us. But, when the struggles of sin weigh us down, that is when we are spiritually obligated to bear one another’s burdens in love.

Paul calls for those with more spiritual maturity to come alongside Christians who are weighed down by sin, no matter how big or small. We are to restore them to a spirit of gentleness. However, we are not to do this out of pride or help others for our own gain and recognition. We must bear one another’s burdens through humility and love because it is our spiritual obligation. As we become more spiritually mature in Christ and actively walk in the Holy Spirit, the byproduct of our lives will be the fruits produced by the Holy Spirit. So, examine your lives and why you serve to ensure your service is because your heart is truly aligned with the Holy Spirit. Break down any facade you may have built because you are only deceiving yourselves and those around you. Approach each other and your service to others with the love of Christ and a willing heart.
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