Reflections on Galatians 6:3-10

Galatians 6:3‑10  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
THE law of Christ tends to keep the soul subdued and humble in contrast with Moses' law with which the Galatians were so enamored. The sense of divine grace is then deep and real in the soul, and preserves from inflation, to which the flesh is ever prone. Hence the apostle says, “For if a man think himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself” (ver. 3). Time was when Paul thought himself to be something. Recall his list of legal attainments and advantages as given in Phil. 3:5, 65Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (Philippians 3:5‑6). He then thought himself the best of men and gloried in flesh to the utmost. But how vast the change when the light of God was let into his soul! How complete the transformation after his memorable meeting with the glorified Christ! The best of men discovered himself to be the chief of sinners; for whom nothing but sovereign grace and mercy could avail. “I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:12-1612And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 15This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 16Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. (1 Timothy 1:12‑16)). Never afterward did he “think himself to be something.” The proud haughty Pharisee became the lowliest of men, the closest possible follower of a rejected and suffering Lord. Only grace can accomplish this. Law tends to puff up. It flatters flesh, or at least flesh uses it in this way. Man with the law in his hand thinks himself competent to worship God and to serve Him.
With this humility and brokenness, the apostle connects heart-searching and examination of one's ways. “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden” (vers. 4, 5). Verse 4 in no way contradicts verse 2. In the earlier verse it is a question of sympathy with one another's infirmities. We are to be helpers of each other, bearing one another's burdens (Βάρη). Here it is responsibility where each must stand alone; “every man shall bear his own burden” (φορτίον). Responsibility cannot be shifted to other shoulders; each individual saint will have to render his own account to God. Solemn consideration! We are apt to lose sight of the judgment-seat of Christ where all that we have done in the body will be gone into by the Lord. But to overlook it is dangerous. Grace does not do away with responsibility, but rather deepens it.
The point before the mind of the Spirit here is that everyone should look to his own ways, that in the coming day he may have rejoicing as to himself. The word is needful and wholesome beyond all doubt. The heart is so treacherous that there is always a tendency to be occupied with the ways and failings of others rather than with our own. It is perfectly possible to complain loudly of a mote in the eye of another and be quite unconscious that a beam resides in one's own. A great advantage is thus given to the enemy, which he is never slow to avail himself of, to the sorrow and shame of the saints and above all to the Lord's dishonor. Let us esteem such ways, beloved brethren. While not overlooking evil in others, let us correct our own ways, remembering that each has to answer to the Lord for himself. Beware of mounting the judgment-seat; it is the prerogative of the Lord Jesus Christ.
A word as to Heb. 13:1717Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17) may be useful here. There the apostle bids the saints to obey their leaders; “for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy and not grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” This must not be misunderstood. The verse by no means teaches that spiritual guides are responsible for the souls placed under their care. Such an idea may suit priestly pretenders, but not the Spirit of God. Each man stands on his own responsibility to God, as we have seen. But all who serve among the Lord's saints are accountable to Him for their behavior; and this is what the apostle has before him in Heb. 13:1717Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17). The Lord will inquire by-and-by as to whether the diseased have been strengthened, and the broken ones healed. On the other hand, let those cared for look well to it that they cause no unnecessary grief to such as love and care for them for the Lord's sake.
To return to our chapter, we next meet with a word as to the temporal support of laborers. “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” (ver. 6). If spiritual things are freely sown, it ought not to be a great matter if the temporal is reaped in return. God looks for this from His own. It is not only the due of His servants, but His due, which He never foregoes, though all is on the ground of grace. The apostle's exhortation in this place is purposely general, not local. Suppose in a given place, the saints are served by those who need no return from them, are they free from all responsibility as before the Lord? Assuredly not. The church of God is one, and the laborers are one; in such a case the heart must find vent for its bounty elsewhere. This is an important principle for all to remember. A harvest of blessing will always be reaped where it is acted upon in faith and love.