Spirit of Gentleness (6:1-2)

  1. 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.Paul goes from teaching the Galatians sound doctrine (chs. 3 & 4) to living in the Holy Spirit (ch. 5). In ch. 6, he focuses on how a Christian ought to deal with specific issues that arise in the church. In v. 1, Paul layouts the precept for Christians to live by: to restore others back to God. CaughtThe chosen word conveys being “caught off guard; overtaken; to learn something by surprise.” The implications are twofold: (1) a person is caught committing the sin (startled/shame) and (2) the person’s life had been slipping into the snares of sin. In any transgression—A lapse or falling aside from walking in the path of the Holy Spirit (5:25). Dr. Kenneth Wuest, “Here the apostle is speaking of the case of a Christian, who while desiring wholeheartedly to do the right, yet does the wrong because he is not availing himself of the God-appointed method of living the Christian life. His sin is not therefore the deliberate violation of God’s will and His Word, but a lapse into sin through a helplessness to prevent it, a helplessness however self-imposed in this case, for the Galatians had had the ministry of the Spirit taught to them by the apostle who has recorded his failure as a Christian when living under law, in Romans 7, and the way of victory which he afterwards found, in Romans 6 and 8.” SpiritualThose who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and who are bearing the fruit of the Spirt (5:16, 22-25) are the ones called to minister to stumbling Christians. RestoreThe first admonition given by Paul is to restore people caught in sin. The GK. word is katartizo, a reference to a “dislocated limb” or “mending fish nets.” The idea carries with it the need to piece back together something broken. GentlenessA spiritual Christian can “piece back together” a person caught in sin with gentleness. Another translation is “spirit of gentleness.” When a Christian sees someone caught in a sin, they are not to react with violent emotions or with arrogance. Even when sinful actions are scandalous and harmful, the emotions of the gentle person are under control, and the will of the gentle person is devoted to loving the sinner all the way to total recovery. Dr. Charles Stanley writes, “We must watch the spirit in which we confront the fallen one. We must be firm but gentle. We are to confront them “in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal. 6:1). Hurting people can be as fragile as glass; they don’t need our condemnation. We don’t go to them in anger or to vent our hurt. We go gently, remaining sensitive to their agony. We should not automatically interpret their inability to express grief as a lack of remorse or repentance. They may suffer so greatly that they can’t get close to the physical tears for which their souls weep. We must remain firm in our efforts to bring the sin into the open, but we need to do so with gentleness and respect.” Only the Holy Spirit can empower a person to respond in a “spirit of gentleness.” Bondage leaders don’t care for people trapped in sin. In fact, they add to the struggling Christian’s sorrows. Jesus said, “And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger” (Matt. 23:4). Keep watch on yourself—The second admonition is for Christians to pay close attention to their spiritual walk with God. The word is consider, to “look intently to observe with diligence.” Paul warns the “more spiritual” Christian to avoid being prideful and condescending to those who have fallen lest they too slip up.
    • 6 – restore (w/ naïve Christian)
    • 18 – confront & amend (w/ other Christians)
    • 1 Cor. 5 – rebuke & discipline (w/ rebellious unbeliever)
    • 3:10-11 – warn and remove (w/ rebellious Christians)
  2. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Followed by the precept (v. 1), Paul gives the principle: Fulfill the law of Christ—We are commanded to love our neighbor (5:14; Matt. 22:39) and our enemies (Matt. 5:43). Bear one another’s burdens—Carrying a load was an involuntary task for soldiers and slaves. However, here, Paul gives his third admonition by exhorting Christians to voluntarily aid those who are burdened by various trials in life. The GK. word for burdens (baros)implies the incapability to carry the crushing weight alone. Burdens are not limited to sinful behavior but include sickness, family turmoil, anxiety, financial strife.
      • 15:1-2: “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”
      • 1 Cor. 10:24: “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”
      • 2:4: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Spirit of Pride (6:3-5)

  1. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Since every Christian can fall into sin, Paul warns those “who are more spiritual” not to let pride enter their hearts and cause them to sin. In 5:26, Paul conveyed, “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
  2. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. Paul presents his fourth admonition to the Galatians: test your own work. Christians who look out for others need to be careful that their intentions are not impure and that their minds are filled with insidious comparisons. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 13 But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. 15 We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, 16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. 17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”
    • Each person’s work is to be measured against the standards of God—not himself. Every Christian will one day stand before Jesus and give an account for their actions. Rom. 14:10, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you depose your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”
  3. For each will have to bear his own load. In v. 2, Paul stated “bear one another’s burdens.” Here, he tells the Galatians to bear his own load. A load (GK., phortion) was a manageable cargo. A simpler rendering is “For every man must ‘shoulder his own pack.’” Thus, it seems Paul is referring to Christians needing to be self-reliant as they manage their own obligations in life. You can’t help others if your life is messed up.