Point of Reference
by Fred Price
There are several crucial lessons to be gleaned from Galatians 6:1-5 and supporting scripture. In these few short lines, Paul states a number of principles that could profoundly change our lives; instilling in us a mindset more in line with Christ’s (Philippians 2:5), leading to a self-awareness that renounces self-centeredness and promotes genuine ministry.
He starts out by advising, “…if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” Absolutely negating a critical self-righteousness that encourages us to seek out sinners to berate and chastise (Matthew 7:1-5), while highlighting the opportunity for us to serve; recognizing the struggles others are having with many of the same issues we’ve failed at and offering sound, scriptural advice that will allow them to overcome “the sin that so easily entangles,…” us all. Hebrews 12:1 It being central to our call to Christ that we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory and His definition of righteousness. (Romans 3:23 & 1 John 1:8 – although we no longer willfully choose to sin. 1 John 3:9) As we were all once, “…dead in (our) transgressions and sins, in which (we) used to live when (we) followed the ways of this world… All of us lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following it’s desire and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ…” Ephesians 2:1-5 “Those who (now) belong to Christ Jesus hav(ing) crucified the sinful nature with it’s passions and desires.” Ephesians 5:24; turning instead to a life of righteousness, achieved through faith (Romans 1:17) and by doing what is “right.” (1 John 3:7)
We are to, “Always be prepared to give an answer (or to defend and offer advice) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”; doing so with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15 Understanding that as, “God’s fellow-workers”, we share in the ministry of reconciliation of Christ Jesus; serving as Ambassadors of the gospel. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 & 6:1) A people, “…belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 Obligated (Romans 1:14) and compelled (1 Corinthians 9:16) to share our good fortune with others – not to force them to behave but exemplifying what Christ can and will do in a sinner’s life!
But then Paul interjects a warning, “…watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” Referring back to the sin nature of Ephesians 2, we must guard ourselves from unrestrained association with sinners, as I’m not sure we’re ever totally free from sin’s allure and the selfishness at its core. That is why Paul reminded the Corinthians that, “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 Which is not to say we must never associate with people who are unfamiliar with the gospel of grace found in Christ Jesus. But we must moderate our exposure to sin and willfully sinful people. Their attitudes and actions often influencing our own, causing us to back-slide from the heights we’ve been called to or encouraging us to excuse their behavior out of familiarity and sympathy with their “situation.”
A strong Biblical-based sense of right and wrong and a willingness to address the issues plaguing our society can and will open us up to accusations of meddling, insensitivity and even bigotry. Calling people to task for bad behavior just by living the life we’ve been called to and explaining the reasons behind it, is often equated as boorish behavior and an attempt at coercion. But discipline has always had a place in the scriptural scheme of correct living and instruction. (Hebrews 12:5-11), though it can’t be administered by us indiscriminately on people we don’t know and who haven’t asked for help; but there is an element of critical thinking and discernment that we must exercise in any relationship we engage in. As discipline, whether as punishment or self-control, “…produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 And part of restoration is inextricably tied to accountability, discipline and avoiding exposure to sin when possible. Jesus meticulously laying out a procedure to be followed by those needing to confront sin in their midst(Matthew 18:15-17) – Paul reiterating this policy in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 – the ultimate purpose in both sets of instructions being the fostering of genuine sorrow, repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8-11) and restoration. (2 Corinthians 2:5-8)
Galatians 6:2 then admonishes us to, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Our desire then to witness to others, helping them when possible, while disciplining ourselves and influencing others will be firmly grounded in the “royal law” of “Love your neighbor as yourself.” James 2:8 (See also Romans 13:10 & Galatians 5:13,14)
To fully grasp this concept, and effectively put it into practice, we must fully understand what Paul meant when he said, “If anyone thinks he is something when he’s nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,…” Galatians 6:3,4Warning us elsewhere, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment…” Romans 12:3 Which includes “…be(ing) willing to associate with people of low position.” Romans 12:16 A characterization no Christian should make of others anyway, all of us reaching our full potential only in relation to Christ and at our own pace. As such, we must base all our decisions and offers of help on the wisdom to be attained through God’s word rather than our own preferences. Which is at times incomprehensible to unbelievers and considered “foolish”, yet holds out the only hope of salvation for humankind. (Romans 1:20-25)
Paul stressed the humility we must exercise in approaching others when he instructed the Philippians to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3,4Leading us to another imperative of faith, “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, from 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.” Galatians 6:7-10
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Fred Price - married (48 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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