“Doing Good to All People”

A Homily Based on10 Lessons from Galatians 6:1-10

By

Emmett I. Aldrich

 

            The book of Galatians is often referred to as “Luther’s Book,” because Martin Luther relied very heavily on this letter in his writings and arguments against the prevailing theology of his day.  It was the rediscovery of the basic message of Galatians that brought about the Reformation.

 

            By chapter 6, Paul makes a call for mutual support and help by Christians and places the gospel into practice for us.

 

            In this article, I will offer additional Bible verses to help reinforce some of the points I want to make.  Also, I have included some quotes or non-biblical proverbs to add emphasis.  [Most quotes are taken from: The Complete Book of Zingers, by Croft M. Penz, Tyndale House Publishing, Inc., 1990].

 

            So, with that in mind, the first quote I will offer is this…. “The Bible is like a compass – it always points the believer in the right direction.”  I think that is exactly what Paul does in his letter to the Galatians. He points us in the right direction to understand some of our responsibilities as Christians.

 

Galatians 6:1-10

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  Each one should test his own actions.  Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.  Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.  Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  (NIV).

 

10 Lessons

Let’s take a closer look at each verse of this passage and see what lessons we can learn.  The first verse is in three parts.

6:1 – You who are spiritual; Restore him gently; But watch yourself.

            As a Christian (You who are spiritual), we should help our brothers and sisters in Christ overcome their sins and adversities, and gently and humbly help them back onto the right path (Restore him gently).

            At the same time, Paul admonishes us to be careful (But watch yourself), that we are not tempted by the sins of others or our own where we might be rendered ineffective in helping others.

            So the lesson for us from the first verse, is a message that we are called by God to support and help our brothers and sisters with any of their troubles because we are Christian.  The very nature of being a Christian requires us to do this.  And we must do that in such a way that is not forceful or demeaning or accusatory in nature.  Additionally, we must be sure that we keep ourselves in check and watch our own behavior.

 

6:2 – Carry each other’s burdens. 

The first thing that comes to mind here is the familiar song of, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.” And the concept that this song conveys - that we can carry the burdens of our brothers and sisters, because they are not too much for us to bear. 

In this context, this verse also addresses moral burdens or weaknesses, and calls for us to share each other’s troubles and problems.  Romans chapter 15 talks about “The Weak and the Strong” and in verses 1-3, we find this lesson….

            “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.  For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insult of those who insult you have fallen on me.’”

            And so we see by Christ’s example, he carries our burdens not to please himself, but by doing so, he makes us stronger.  Consequently, the lesson for us is that we must help share the burdens of others because it is what Christ would have us do (by his example), and not because we will reap any special reward, but because it will help ‘build up’ our brother or sister.

            A quote to remember…. “It is so much easier to tell a person what to do with his problem then to stand with him in pain.”

 

6:3 – Guard against self-deception.

          Actually, this verse reads: “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”  This is a very short, one sentence verse.  But it contains a tremendous amount of meaning for us. 

            First, it warns us that we should not be fooled into thinking that we are too good to do the things this passage asks us to do; such as, “Restore him gently,” or “Carry each other’s burdens.”

            Second, it also warns us not to be hypocritical or self-righteous in our actions with others.  We should never consider ourselves to be better than others, for this will surely result in self-deception.

            A quote to remember…. “Greatness lies not in trying to be somebody but in trying to help somebody.”

 

6:4 – Each one should test his own actions.

          For me, this verse is a reminder that we must take personal responsibility for our own actions or inactions; and that we should be careful not to compare ourselves with others.

            In 1Corinthians 11:28, on the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded that: “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.”  In other words, there should be a period of self-reflection and self-examination before we partake of the Holy Sacraments.

            Likewise, in 2Corinthians 13:5, Paul provides a “Final Warning” and writes:

“Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?”

So the lesson from this verse is to “check yourself” as our parents would say to us when we were young and misbehaving… and we of course say the same thing to our kids.  But more than that, we must test our actions, and examine ourselves to ensure that our faith is as sound as it needs to be.

One quote to remember for this lesson is…. “Pray not for faith to move mountains, rather pray for faith that will move you.”

 

6:5 – Carry his own load.

            Verse 5 is a continuation of verse 4 on ‘Testing our own actions’ and is another short verse that says that; “…for each one should carry his own load.” 

            Now what does that mean to you?  Think about this for a moment.  “Each one should carry his own load.”

            Since this is connected to the previous verse, I believe that it also calls for us to take personal responsibility for our own actions, that we should not be judgmental of others, and that we are accountable for our actions.

We can also find support for this in Romans 14: 10 & 12 which reads:

“You then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother?  For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat…. So then, each of us will give account of himself to God.”

One quote I would offer to help us remember this lesson is…. “We can often do more for other people by correcting our own faults than by trying to correct theirs.”

 

6:6 – Share all good things.

          This is a very interesting verse because it reads: “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.” (Underlining added).

            At first glance, we can surmise that, “Anyone who receives instruction” refers to us as Christians since we receive the word of God through our Pastor.  Our Pastor guides us and gives us instruction in the word.   Additionally, we might deduce that we should, “share all good things” with our Pastor who we see as our “instructor.” 

So, based on this concept, the lesson here might be…. Don’t hog all the credit for yourself for the good things we do, but give the Pastor credit as being called by God to minister to us.  While we issued a call for Pastor Johnson to come to us, it was neither his decision nor our call that was the deciding factor that he is here.  It was God’s decision and direction that caused him to be here.

            Now that is one concept we can take away from this verse.  But I would like to suggest that Paul may have also had a deeper thought in mind with this verse.  Who else would you consider our “instructor”?  Think about that for a moment…. Who else could be our instructor?  Could it be the Board of Elders (or Deacons in some Churches)?  Maybe, but don’t look at me.  Just because I’ve written this article doesn’t mean that I have any special knowledge or experience to share that rises to the level of being called an “instructor.”

            The ultimate “instructor” is God himself, and I believe that this is what Paul had in mind.  The Lord God is our supreme “instructor” and we receive instruction through his word.  So in this context, when we “share all good things,” we do it for the glory of God.

            Another quote to remember is…. “You can’t glorify self and Christ at the same time.”

 

6:7 – Reap what he sows.

This verse has a familiar ring for us and reads: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.”

For the most part, we tend to think of this verse in negative terms; in that if we sow bad deeds, we will reap only bad things in return.  But in the context of “Doing Good to All People,” we can also think of this in a positive way; and if we do good things we will also reap positive rewards.

We can find support for this in 2Corinthians 9:6 – “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

[Note that later in the Corinthians passage – “God loves a cheerful giver.”]

So the lesson here of “reaping what you sow” applies both positively and negatively.

 

6:8 – Reaping Eternal Life.
 

This verse is connected to verse seven (7) and continues: The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Again, the positive aspect of “reaping eternal life” comes out in this verse. 

This is also reinforced for us in Romans 8:13 which reads: “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…”

So the lesson from this verse is simple, and both positive and negative - we can reap destruction or eternal life.

A quote to remember…. “Live today as you wish you had lived when you stand before God.”

 

6:9 – Do not become weary.

The lesson from this verse is very clear from the plain language: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we reap a harvest if we do not give up.” 

In other words, don’t be discouraged and give up on doing good.  This lesson is reinforced for us in Hebrews 12: 1-4.  This is such a beautiful verse:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter [sic] of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  In your struggle to resist sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

This verse gives us an image that Christian life is like a long-distance race that some of us may be tempted to drop out of the contest because we become discouraged and want to give up.  But if we keep our eyes on the prize, (fix our eyes on Jesus) we should concentrate on Jesus to get us through.  Further, if we consider what Christ endured for us, we will not grow weary because our suffering is no where near what he suffered for us.

A quote to remember… “The Christian life is a pilgrim journey, not a sight-seeing tour.”

 

6:10 – Do good to all people, especially Christians.

In this last verse, we read: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

The lesson here for us points to how we must treat each other, especially those in the Church.  We have the opportunity to do good to all people and we must seize those opportunities; but moreover, we must do good to the family of believers which are our Christian brothers and sisters.

 

Closing

So these are my thoughts on the 10 lessons from Galatians 6 on “Doing Good to All People.”  Let me summarize the lessons I think we can take away from this passage:

1)  Christians, restore him gently but watch yourself.

2)  Carry each other’s burdens.

3)  Guard against self-deception.

4)  Test your own actions.

5)  Carry your own load.

6)  Share all good things.

7)  Reap what you sow.

8)  Reap eternal life.

9)  Do not become weary.

10) Do good to all people.

A final quote that I would like to share says…. “Some people are so busy being good, they forget that they should be doing good.”
 

I have not tried to identify what it means to “do good” – I’ll leave that to you to decide; and there are perhaps a number of other lessons you can find in this Chapter of Galatians; but I hope the ones I have identified in this article will help encourage us and endure us to do good (what ever that may be) to all people all the time, and especially toward those in the family of Christ; you and I as brothers and sisters in Christ.

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  AMEN.

              About the Author

Emmett I. Aldrich is a specialist in facilitated discussions, is a certified Mediator and has been involved in community, employment, and interpersonal conflict resolution since 1986.  Mr. Aldrich serves as member of the Board of Directors for the non-profit Center for Dispute Settlement, in Washington , D.C. since 1987.  He has a BS degree with a double major in psychology and sociology from George Washington University and a Masters degree in Labor Studies from the University of the District of Columbia .

More recently, Mr. Aldrich has devoted considerable time and study to developing a Christian response to conflict resolution, and is promoting Biblically based mediation programs for Churches.  Mr. Aldrich is a third generation Lutheran, and has been a life-long member of Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in Washington, DC, where he has served as the Congregational President, Treasurer, other ad hoc positions; and currently serves on the Board of Trustees and the Board of Elders. 

  

Copyright © 2008 Emmett I. Aldrich.  All Rights Reserved.  Permission is granted to reproduce copy or distribute part or this entire article with attribution to the author. 



 

 

This site managed with Dynamic Website Technology from Mediate.com
InstantAssist.com Conflict Consultation