1Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
There will be times when we become aware of a brother or sister’s sin. The word for caught indicates that the person sinning is found out in the act or before he has had a chance to conceal his evil deeds. Those who are spiritual, meaning those who are walking in the Spirit (cross reference 1 Corinthians 2:14-15), are those who should seek to restore a fallen brother or sister gently. The Christian life is not competition where we rejoice in a fallen member of our family. We are not trying to outdo them, but our purpose is rather to do what we can to get our brothers and sisters to cross the finish line victoriously as well. We are to mend, put in order, and help make the fallen Christian what he should be. When we see a member of the family of God sinning, it is our calling to do what we can to gently help them back on their spiritual feet. We do so we compassion and tenderness, not as one who thinks he is beyond ever doing or being what they have done or become. We must look to ourselves as well, lest we be tempted. Seeing a person sin could be tempting to want to join in. Even the act of correction and dialoguing about sin issues could be used by Satan to tempt us. Yet our call as those walking strongly with Christ is to restore those in sin, guarding ourselves so that we don’t do likewise. We must always be aware that we still have flesh and can fall.
2Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Our brothers and sisters will struggle at times, and we need to be there for them to encourage them and exhort them in the truth. Rather than leave them behind to fend for themselves against sin and the devil, we are to step in and get them back running strong in the race of the Christian life. When we do this, we fulfill the law of Christ which is to love as He loved (John 13:34-35). This does not refer to fulfilling the Mosaic Law which Christ alone has done, but when we love as Christ loved we keep His commandments (John 14:15). He bore with the disciples who doubted and couldn’t seem to understand what He was trying to tell them. He bore their burdens and the burdens of the people. No one was beyond His attention or care. He was always putting the needs of others ahead of any ministry agenda. When our brothers and sisters are hurting or in need, we need to be there for them.
3For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
4But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.
5For each one will bear his own load.
All believers will be judged by Christ for what they have done while alive in the body, whether good or bad. The issue isn’t heaven or hell but eternal rewards or the lack thereof (2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). It doesn’t matter what we think about ourselves, for only Christ’s opinion will matter. It does no good to rank ourselves compared to others because we will be judged on the basis of our own works, not as a relative measure of theirs. When we know that we are faithful before God according to His Word, we can have great confidence in Christ that we will be receiving great rewards in the life to come (Galatians 6:9, 1 Peter 5:6). Bragging to others about how great we are is a sin itself, for it does not bear their burdens but exalts the flesh. But we can have an internal confidence that we know that we have done well. Christ’s verdict is the only measure that ultimately counts. If we deceive ourselves into thinking we have accomplished many spiritual things when we have not, we will be severely disappointed.
6The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.
Some believers are called and gifted to teach. Those who are taught the Word of God by these individuals are to share all good things with their teachers. This does not mean that they are to give them all of their money. Note that it says to share in all good things. Those who lead the church in full-time work are deserving of receiving financial support. However, the thrust of the passage is not on one aspect of life such as finances but on the totality of life in Christ. Though we each bear our own load and will be judged individually, we are called to bear the burdens of one another. Not only this, but if we are in a teaching role, we should do what we can to see that those whom we teach come to a place of fellowship and communion with where we are with Christ. We are not to lord it over them with our knowledge and understanding. Too often teachers of the Word enjoy the fact that they know more than their students. The goal is not to manipulate others by flaunting our knowledge but to cause all to come to share in the knowledge that the Lord has graciously blessed us with. It should be that those whom we disciple are able to come to a place of sharing in our understanding and love for the Lord. The ultimate outworking of this is that true authentic fellowship can be had. When those whom we have discipled minister to us in return in our time of need, this is the fulfillment of this admonition.
7Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
8For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
9Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
10So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
Paul has made it abundantly clear that we will be judged individually before God. We cannot live our lives for the flesh and then expect to receive rewards. In fact, if our entire lives are devoted to walking after the flesh, we may not even be going to heaven. This is why we need to not deceive ourselves. There will be future consequences for our present actions. Just as a farmer plants corn if he wants to harvest corn, so too we must walk after the Spirit if we want to be rewarded. We can’t plant corn and be disappointed when it doesn’t grow barley. What we sow is what we will reap. If we reap after the flesh as a life pattern, we will reap eternity in hell. If we as believers indulge the flesh too often, it will corrupt us and make us useless for the purposes of the Lord. Those who walk after the Spirit and sow spiritual seeds will be assured that they will sprout forth spiritual fruit. They will know that they have eternal life coming (1 John 5:13). The reality of life is that God must make the seeds grow. They might grow right away or at a far distant date. But the point is that if we keep sowing spiritual seeds, ultimately fruit will be born. At God’s proper time, we will see a harvest and reap rewards and honor in eternity. We must not stop just because we don’t see immediate results or because we think we have already planted enough seeds. Satan wants us to give up because sowing spiritual seeds is hard work and tiring. But we must press on in light of eternity and for the glory of God. I think it is important that we note the phrase “if we do not grow weary.” Some have done ministry for a long time and are just worn out with people, study, and service. If we let physical or emotional weariness make us spiritually weary, we will compromise our ability to bear fruit. We must keep the fire hot inside until we go to be with Christ. We don’t know when this time will be, so while we have the opportunity (i.e. today), we need to do good to all people but particularly believers. It is a poor testimony to care for those outside the family of God at the expense of believers. We must take care of our brothers and sisters well and then go and serve others.
11See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.
Scholars believe that Paul’s writing with large letters by his own hand could be because of deteriorating eyesight or because Paul chose to write in block letters as would have been customary for issuing a public notice. Rather than using the cursive of the scribes, if he chose to use these block letters, it would be clear that he was emphasizing the content of the message as being extremely important. This makes sense given that Paul has been very adamant and passionate in many of his points in the letter. Furthermore, he wrote this letter with his own hand. Many times he dictated the letters that he wrote, but this time he personally wrote it. I would ask why he would write his own letter if his vision was poor. That would be all the more reason to dictate it. Thus, I think it is more probable that Paul wrote the letter himself with the same purpose as he used the block letters- to emphasize the importance of the message.
12Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
Paul was fed up with the Judaizers. He used to be one, and he saw more clearly than perhaps anyone how it was all about making oneself look good in the flesh and ranking oneself in comparison to others. Thus, his message has been to live freely under grace, forsaking performance under that Law that served only to inflate self and further pride. There were those who for the sake of appeasing the Jewish authorities so that they wouldn’t be persecuted went along with the idea of circumcision. They were more interested in the approval of man than God. Their only motive in being a spokesperson for Law-keeping was to avoid persecution that full allegiance to Christ and the gospel would entail. Thus, they denied the sufficiency of the cross in exchange for earthly security.
13For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.
The irony about these folks who insisted on circumcision was that they didn’t bother to keep the rest of the Law. They were only interested in preaching that others should be circumcised so that they could brag about what they had done for the sake of Judaism. Their whole purpose was to make themselves look good.
14But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Unlike the Judaizers and Paul before he was saved, the converted Paul didn’t boast except in the cross of Christ. Only through the cross was righteousness found. Keeping the manmade regulations and appeasing the authorities that be for the sake of fleshly gain was not enticing to Paul. The lures of the world had been crucified to Him in exchange for Christ. He counted all loss that He might possess Christ (Philippians 3:7-8). He had done what he commanded the believers to do in 5:24 by being crucified to the world and choosing rather to be crucified with Christ (2:20).
15For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
16And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
Paul knew the truth that Christ was all. Circumcision was neither right or wrong. What good was it to be a Jew by race evidenced by circumcision and to not be part of the Israel of God? There is the nation of Israel and then the Israel that has been born again by believing in Christ. The issue is whether or not we are a new creation in Christ in the inside. Merely cutting a small flap of skin does not make any person righteous. Only faith in Christ can change us from the inside out. Paul wishes peace and mercy to be upon those who put their faith in Christ because he knows how hard it is to stand for Christ.
17From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.
In fact, he has evidence of what following Christ has cost him all over his body in the form of scars. These he refers to as brand-marks of Christ. These scars served as evidence that He belonged to Christ. Who would endure such suffering for a spurious belief? It is much better to have such marks as proof of walking after the Spirit than mere circumcision that accomplishes nothing eternal. Paul asks that these Galatian believers return to the true gospel that he preached and not trouble him with wavering into Law-keeping.
18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.
These believers had been born again by the grace of God, and it is the grace of God that would enable them to walk in truth by the Spirit and cease falling into the works of the flesh.