Help Others by the Spirit - Galatians 6:1-5 (Sermon)


WALK(The formatting of the manuscript is a bit wonky. Sorry about that).

How do you walk? Do you strut? Do you saunter? Do you tiptoe? Do you speed walk? Do you ever think about how you walk? I don’t. I guess I tend to slouch, so I try not to. But I don’t think much about how I walk. How about you? 
TEXT TRANSITION - WALKING 
Last week, Pastor Jeff shared with us four things that God said from Galatians chapter 5 relating to our walking with God: 
  • Walk in the Spirit, 

  • Be led by the Spirit, 

  • Live by the Spirit 

  • And Stay in step with the Spirit. 

How do we do that? How are we to walk like that? What does that look like on Monday morning or this afternoon? 

HOW WE DO THAT?

Let’s continue along those lines and talk about what that looks like to walk in the Spirit, specifically in helping others. Life in the Spirit is not one of solitude. Instead, it is relational. We are part of a body of believers, not isolated islands. Thus, when we talk about the fruit of the Spirit, it is set in the context of the church. 

TEXT 

The basis for this call to help others comes from five verses in Galatians. Galatians chapter 6 verses 1 through 5. I have asked B.S. to read for us. Please stand with me for the reading of God’s Word. 

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. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. (Galatians 6:1–5)

PRAYER 

Thank you. Let’s pray. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for your Word. We want to walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, stay in step with the Spirit, and live by the Spirit. Help us to know how. Help us to help each other. Help us, in Jesus’s name, amen. You may be seated. 

OVERVIEW 

Let’s go back and remember what has happened so far in Galatians. First, Paul planted and built the region of churches in Galatia. (This is an area of modern-day Turkey.) Then, he left to start more churches and encourage believers. While away, a group of teachers came in and distorted the gospel. They taught that you had to be circumcised to be right with God. They held to certain holidays and Old Testament laws as essential for one’s salvation. This jeopardized salvation of the church, which might believe such things. It was legalism. This wasn’t a matter of opinion or interpretation; it was a different gospel that was no gospel at all. Paul wrote a scathing letter of correction called Galatians which we have been preaching on. The melodic line of Galatians is that we must return to the gospel of grace so we can walk in the freedom of the Spirit. We must avoid #gospeldrift. 

CHAPTER 5 CONTEXT 

Paul spent the first five chapters developing his argument. Then, he turned a corner from theory to practice. He contended that the good we do doesn’t save us. Our religious practices don’t save us. Our ethnicity, gender, or social status don’t save us. This reality frees us from broken measuring sticks, disappointments, and Hell. Yet, that doesn’t mean we are free to live however we please. 

5:13

If you have your Bibles, look at Galatians chapter 5 verse 13. It states,

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). 

Paul proclaimed the believer’s freedom from the Old Testament law, but not morality. The church needed to be wary of something called the “flesh”. The flesh stood for those sinful desires lurking inside a person. As those free in Christ, God calls his people to a life of loving service, not the indulgence of sin. This is a new law that sums up all of God’s laws. This law is the mark of the Christian and the centerpiece of the Spirit-led walk.

HOLY SPIRIT

As an aside, when it comes to the Spirit, who is he? What is he? We often think of the Holy Ghost, a supernatural force, or the bestower of extraordinary powers like healing, predicting the future, miracles, or speaking angelic languages. Be that as it may, In Galatians, Paul wrote that the Spirit was much more prevalent and operative in the mundane. The Spirit’s work is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Paul set that fruit of the Spirit next to the works of the flesh, both relational, yet the flesh was destructive. Jeff summed the works of the flesh into four categories: 

  • sexuality, 
  • idolatry, 
  • relational discord, 
  • and escapism. 

These works were problems that the Galatians church 2000 years ago faced. And the reality is that people in our daily struggle too.

ZOOM IN ON TWO 

In Galatians chapter 6, Paul talked about two specific groups of people that God calls us to help by the power of the Spirit. One is stuck in fleshly ways of living; the other is just stuck and needing help. One is straying, and the other is struggling. In both cases, Paul gave several instructions to help: be gentle, careful, and humble. His main point, simply put, was:  

Help one another by the Spirit. 

Let me say that again. This is the main point of the message. So if you take away one sentence, here it is.  

Help one another by the Spirit. 

BROTHERS 

Let’s look at it verse by verse.

“Brothers” (Galatians 6:1).  

As we look at this verse, we must remember that Paul talked to men and women. They were Jews and Gentiles, slaves, and masters. This was an in-house discussion about how Christians treat one another. The word brother is a placeholder for those who are part of the faith family. Paul wrote in chapter 3: 
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).  

That meant that we are all one in value by faith in Jesus. Of course, we are different, unique as fingerprints, but before God, we are all sinners saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  

CAUGHT IN ANY TRANSGRESSION 

Let’s jump back to Galatians chapter 6. It goes on.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression” (Galatians 6:1).  

Stop there. There are times in the church when people fall into sin. They are caught. They are like fish swimming too close to the Cook Nuclear Power Plant. They get sucked into the water intake and can’t get out. 

COOK 

Eleven years ago, the Chicago Tribune ran a story highlighting this. It found that “The Cook nuclear plant … kills more than 1.3 million fish annually, most of which are yellow perch. An additional 196 million eggs and other organisms die each year inside the plant’s cooling system.” (https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-great-lakes-fish-kills-20110614-story.html). (That may sound bad, but there is at least one other power plant around Lake Michigan that was a worse offender ). The point is that some fish are just swimming along and start to go with the flow. It seems nice. I bet it is warm and comfortable. Maybe it is fun. It feels good. Everyone is doing it. It’s not that bad. No one is getting hurt. Let’s see where this goes. But it doesn’t go so well. In chapter 5, we heard about some of those sins people swim in. Some of those sins our culture is saying are not that bad. Everyone does it. It is natural. You only live once. Enjoy yourself. It’s a free country. But the end is destruction. 

YOU WHO ARE SPIRITUAL 

Paul went on. 

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual” (Galatians 6:1). 

Jesus wants those who consider themselves spiritual in a Christian sense to help those struggling and straying, wandering, and waffling. That is all of us believers. We are responsible for our brothers and sisters to help by the Spirit and not sit idly by while they shipwreck their faith. 

UNAWARE 

I remember several times when people have helped me on a smaller scale. When I got married, my wife confronted me about how I treated my mom. I was rude and disrespectful. At first, I was offended and defensive of being called to account by my wife. I do what I do because I think I am trying to be funny, or I am right.

CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE

Nevertheless, I began to see myself from my wife’s perspective. That was twenty years ago. Over the years, people have spoken the truth to me, which has helped me see my sin and fight my sin. That is one reason I appreciate being a part of a faith community. We need each other. None of us want to be caught in this type of undertow. 

CHECK YOURSELF FIRST 

But one may object, “What about being judgmental?” Jesus said judge not lest you be judged. Right? How does Paul’s encouragement line up with Jesus’s prohibition? Let’s look at where he taught that. Keep your finger in Galatians. We are going to go to Matthew chapter 7. This is the last chapter of the Sermon on the Mount. Look at verse 1. Jesus preached, 

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1–5)

Some might hear this teaching and think that Paul and Jesus were at loggerheads: they disagree. We are not to take the speck out of our brother’s eye. That is not what Jesus taught. He was not prohibiting confrontation. He was just saying we need to check yourselves first. Verse 5 says, “Then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). We can help each other fight sin. We need each other’s help to fight sin from time to time.

CAUTION GENTLENESS

If we concede that Jesus was okay with us confronting one another, it would be good to keep reading Paul’s one-word qualification: “gentleness.”

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1).

Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit. So, do we have control over being gentle? We do. God doesn’t want us to be rude, harsh, mean, or unkind in our corrections. Paul had just told the church not to bite and devour each other or be conceited. We must watch our attitude in confrontation. We must be filled with the Spirit. Walk in the Spirit. When you see another person’s blind spot, don’t think you are all high and mighty. Be gentle. Another word that might go with that is humble. Think about correcting a toddler. You might be firm and stern. But you would not treat them as a criminal. You would not treat a toddler like a football player caught disrespecting his coach. You get down on your child’s level. You look him in the eye. You say what you have to say, but at the end of the day, you want them to know you love them. Therefore, be gentle.  

CAUTION x2

Now, there are some here who have no problem confronting those caught in sin. They are good at it. Be gentle, please. This sermon is not a permission slip for us to go on witch hunts. Be gentle. Now, there are some here who won’t speak up but should for their life of them. This verse is an encouragement. God may bring you into a relationship where only you can speak up and help your brother or sister see and fight sin. 

CAUTIOUS

Paul was not done with instructions about confronting. Verse 1 continues, 

Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). 

When confronting, remember we might fall. That is what Paul warns against. You might stumble in the very sin you confront. I have noticed, in some cases, the pull to the same sin I correct. If we remember that intake image, imagine you see a person getting slowly sucked in the direction of the plant. You try to rescue them, but if you are not careful, you will also be taken in. (For the record, the Cook plant probably has some safety features that protect people and maybe even more fish than they did eleven years ago. Regardless, sin is deadly, like driving on the interstate with your eyes closed or doing a cartwheel at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.) Sin seems exhilarating and pleasurable at times; that is a tricky part. Be wary lest you fall into the very sin you are helping a brother or sister fight. Just consider how many people have given into sexual temptation or alcoholism in the guise of connecting, understanding, relating, or helping. Be careful and gentle. Help those who are sinning. 

HOW DOES THIS REALLY LOOK?

What would such a spiritual, gentle, careful correction look like? In general, correct in private, praise in public. By doing that, you pull the brother or sister aside and share what you observe. An excellent way to begin is to ask the person caught, can I talk to you about something? Start and end like Paul with a word of encouragement. Share the good you see. You might see the person loves the Lord. You might notice they sincerely want to be a good parent. Then you bring your observation when you spoke to your son the other day, “I think you sounded harsh.” You may not be seeing the situation correctly. Ask clarifying questions, not as an interrogator but gently and lovingly as one who wants to help. “When you were talking with your child, can I ask what was going on in your thought process?” Ultimately, you can’t make them see what you see. And you could be wrong. Ask them to pray about it. Suppose the sin was blatant, public, and had a severely negative impact. In that case, one’s correction should be more direct, forceful, and immediate. That is just a loose pattern I have used over the years. To help brothers and sisters who stray, struggle, wander, and waffle. This is instruction about the first person God calls us to, 

Help one another by the Spirit. 


HOW TO CARRY

The second person that the Holy Spirit might be leading us to help is those with a heavy burden. Paul spends more time on this. Let’s go back to Galatians chapter 6, verse 2.  

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. (Galatians 6:2–5)

Since Christ bore our sin, we should bear one another's burdens. The book of Romans, chapter 15 says this,   

“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. For Christ did not please himself” (Romans 15:1–3). 

What kind of burdens do those around you carry? You have encouraged me, who have cared for those who have lost loved ones this year. Some of you have helped those who have had COVID, cancer, strokes, and other ailments. You have cared for those who have had babies and graduated. You have helped those who have left to serve in the military. You have been caring for others, walking where the Holy Spirit leads. Paul wrote that your loving compassion like that fulfills the law of Christ.

LAW

What did he mean by the law of Christ? Do you remember John 13:34 and 35? Jesus said, 

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35).

 I am convinced that the law of Christ is to love one another. Do you? Do I?

LOVE YOUR BROTHER 

Jesus’s close disciple, John, wrote that love should be the hallmark of the Christian. 

By this we know love, that he [Jesus] laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:16–18)

Do you love people? To love others, we have to know them. Do we know those around this room enough to love them? It is easy to love those who are like me and those who like me. It is harder to love when love is costly. So why would we bother loving others when it takes something? Here are four reasons from the Scriptures to love:

  1. Jesus commanded it. 

  2. The world will know we Christians by it. 

  3. The world will praise our heavenly Father for it.

  4. It is a fruit of the Spirit.

Paul has been saying faith acting in love is what counts. This is more than a feeling. It is more than a preference. Love is action. We are to love one another. We are not islands. We need a community of faith. God wants us to be known in the church, to help each other. On the flip side, do you let people know you? People can help you if you aren’t being transparent and open about your challenges.

PRIDE 

Paul, like in the previous command, gave a word of caution: be humble. Look at verses 3 through 5. 


For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. (Galatians 6:3–5)

What was Paul saying? When we help one another in love, straying, or struggling, we can tend to look down on them or take credit for what God is doing. Paul wrote, don’t. Don’t think you are something when you are not. We are all on a level playing field. We are nothing in one sense. We were in such a bad spot spiritually that God had to send his one and only Son to die in our place. He did and loves us still. Therefore, we are to be humble.  

CHRIST’S MIND

Paul wrote to a church in the city of Philippi something that helps us strike that gait, do this walk. 

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5–8) 

Do you have the mind of Christ? What would it look like to have his perspective? When it comes down to it, we are justified by faith in Jesus, not our service or compliance with the law. We are not better than those we serve. Therefore, we must be humble and obedient as we walk out of our faith. Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought. We must fight a sense of entitlement or demand for recognition.

BOAST

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31). 

Paul goes on to challenge the believer to test his work. When we do, we might boast, but I think if we are honest, we won’t. Instead, we will boast like Paul, who wrote, 

Help one another by the Spirit. 

LISTEN

We are not to beat each other over the head when people are stuck in sin, nor are we to Lord over people their weakness. We must be humble, obedient Spirit-led people helping the struggling and straying. Let us rescue those heading for danger or hurt by no fault of their own and brag on God. He is great. Let us:

Consider what the Holy Spirit is saying. Is there someone you need to confront? Is there someone you need to help carry their burden? What would it look like for you to walk by the Spirit? 

HURTING

Perhaps you have a burden and are struggling. After the service, we have prayer time. Come forward. Share your burden. We will pray for you. If you can’t, share it with someone this week. Write it on a connect card and put it in the offering box. Who is that one person you can share with? 

STRAYING 

Possibly you are convicted of sin. You are getting sucked into the tractor beam of transgression and destruction. Who is one person you can talk to that might be able to help you fight it? You don’t have to do this alone. Don’t do this alone. 

UNBELIEVER

Maybe you are not a believer. You don’t believe the Bible or Jesus. Yet, God is calling you to turn from selfishness and believe. Repent, or in other words, turn, and believe in Jesus. Today could be the day of your salvation. Forgiveness from God is that simple. He did all the hard work dying on the cross. 

PRAYER 

Let’s pray. Dear God, we don’t like confrontation. I don’t. If we need to confront someone this week, give us courage. Please help us be gentle. Some have burdens here. Help carry the loads of our church Body. If you are calling us to help, help us be humble. Purify us and assist us in our walk of faith, Lord. Get glory in Jesus’s name, amen.

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