Turning to some applications of his point on liberty (chapter five) Paul now gives us two in 6.1-5.
Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness. Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too. Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Let each one examine his own work. Then he can take pride in himself and not compare himself with someone else. For each one will carry his own load.
First, Paul writes that if a person is discovered in some sin, then the leaders of the group are to restore such a person, but this is to be gone gently (v.1). Drawing from local and understandable examples again, where Paul writes restore he is using the same word used for the setting of bones or the mending of fishing nets (καταρτίζω). The idea is that restoration is done gently, thoughtfully, intentionally, and thoroughly by those in leadership (v.1). What better way to use their newfound freedom and liberty than to pick up their brothers and sisters when they have tripped. No legalistic comparison, no box-ticking scorn, no meritorious condescension.
Paul goes on to say that the Galatians should carry one another’s burdens of temptation and potential spiritual failure (v.2).
Accountability is as important for you now as it was for the Galatians all those years ago.
This, we read, will fulfill the law of Christ. The principle of self-giving love at the heart of the law of Christ is fulfilled when we give ourselves for the benefit of others (John 13.34).
To do this for others, the Galatians (and us) need to lay aside all pretences about ourselves. The encouragement is for each one to examine his own work, to honestly look at what you are saying and doing and evaluate this without comparison to others (v.4). Looking solely at what God says and how we are implementing it is our own load to carry (v.5). Different to the burden of v.2, here we have the idea of a personal-sized load, something like a soldier’s backpack. Simply, if we are to help others with their struggles, there must be things we are taking care of and carrying for ourselves (vv.2-5, Matthew 11.30).
The big ideas here both focus on others, don’t they? We are to use our liberty and freedom in Christ for the benefit of others, to love others, and to help others be all that they can be as a believer. Yes, we need to take an honest look at ourselves as we do, but our primary posture and our first focus must be toward and on others.
Today then, yes, pay close attention to yourselves, but on the way to working out v.2,
Carry one another’s burdens,
and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.