“Nothing reveals the wickedness of legalism better than the way the legalists treat those who have sinned.” (Warren Wiersbe)
Paul has spent much of his letter to the Galatians addressing how they have been deceived by these false teachers requiring adherence to laws for salvation. But he also recognizes that we are sinful people who will mess up and fall to temptation from time to time. And though it doesn’t impact our salvation, it does diminish our impact. He says that in these cases we must – with gentleness – restore them.
Our lives aren’t meant to remain in a pit of sin and its effects. We must seek restoration and alignment with the will of God.
The goal is always RESTORATION. We are called to restore – not ignore or destroy.
Think about how most interactions with sin are handled. They are often ignored, hoping it will all just go away, or terrified of the consequences of addressing it. Equally devastating, the alternative is often a brutal and public attack, behind the back gossip, and harsh judgment.
Neither ignoring or destroying leads to a restoring.
Luther says, “if any man be overtaken with a fault, do not aggravate his grief, do not scold him, do not condemn him, but lift him up and gently restore his faith.”
When we are dealing with sin, it must be handled with gentleness. We are all prone to wander...Paul reminds us to keep watch on ourselves. As we seek to restore, we must examine our own shortfalls. Pride is a sneaky and destructive poison.
Likewise, we are called to bear one another’s burdens. If we want to know how to love our neighbors, we can bear their burdens. We all have burdens and we weren’t meant to bear them alone.
Jesus bore our burdens of sin and its devastating impact. What better example to follow.
Life is hard and full of trials. Why add one more burden that no one can bear – the burden of saving ourselves?
What if instead of piling on more burdens of legalism and striving to save ourselves, we bore each other’s’ burdens? What if we became burden-lifters by preaching the freedom found in Christ alone?
What if we were a community that bore each other’s burdens; that made life a bit easier and lighter instead of more difficult and lonely?
Imagine a community where you didn’t have to face trials alone; where when the load was too much to bear, a brother or sister in Christ came and gently, humbly, joyfully reached over and started taking it off your shoulder and passing it down the line to be shared as a community. This is what we are called to do.
And as Paul brings his letter to a close, he excuses his transcribing companion and grabs the pen and parchment. Pouring out more of himself, Paul personally pens the final paragraph, closing with these words, “From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” (Galatians 6:17)
Paul physically bears on his body the marks of Jesus. In preaching the gospel he is beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned (2 Cor 11:23-25). Many Christians around the world still physically bear the marks of Jesus.
But there are unseen marks as well. Jesus tells us there is a cost to following Him. It comes in different forms in different seasons. There will be times when we will bear painful marks of a follower. But there will also be times where we will bear beautiful marks of a follower – the marks of the fruit of the spirit, the marks of bearing one another’s burdens, the marks of serving others, the marks of love and restoration.
What marks are you willing to bear for Jesus?
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