Presbyterian in Background, Biblical in Tenor

February 26, 2006

Gentleness, Grace and Glory

Ascending to the Cross, Descending from It

Galatians 6


I    Gentleness the Way


Suppose now, that someone commits a fault, makes an offence, then the ideal is to be able to forgive readily and freely. The words 'overtaken in a trespass' suggest that something caught up with him, something overwhelmed, or tricked him. There is no need to play the Pharisee; if you are spiritual, have feeling for that person and seek to restore. Of course, if there were a wilful action NOT repented of, then a SPIRIT of forgiveness should be present, waiting and watching, but the continued folly would suggest the relevance of Christ's words in Luke 17:3, that if a brother trespasses against you AND REPENTS, then forgive.

While you should seek to do good in response to evil, yet if there is no repentance, the question arises in the end whether the other party is a Christian. Again, we are not to be quick to judge, but suppose it were gambling, or illicit sex, or bad temper, and it were constant; if there is no repentance, how is this to be squared with the word of God ? If there is a weakness, then the brother needs to be helped. In the kingdom of heaven, is meekness (Matthew 5), and we who are offended against and those who offend alike, must USE IT.

Not only however must there be this readiness to forgive the repentant, but there is scope to HELP ONE ANOTHER where a burden is experienced. "Bear one another's burdens..."

Suppose however that someone is too proud for the level of another, and despises giving such help, then it is time to consider:  spiritually, is he not nothing without Christ ? and how then is he so superior!  He merely deceives himself, this high-minded person.

Suppose however that someone is too proud to lower himself or herself to the level of another,
and despises giving such help, then it is time to consider that spiritually, is he not nothing without Christ ? and how then is he so superior!  He merely deceives himself, this high-minded person.

Are you not beginning to LIKE the sort of person we are seeing modelled before us ? Then BE LIKE THAT!

That having been said, we return to the arena of responsibility. Having acted in these gracious ways, continue to bear your own burden, being scrupulous in duties, conscientious in fulfilling what is your own work, and have due ground for rejoicing in what is to be in the grace of God, achieved as you do.


II   Grace - the Action


Paul, who personally did not charge for his preaching (I Cor. 9:15-18), considering it a great privilege, nevertheless enunciates the principle, that those who teach the word are to be supported by those who learn. Of interest here is a case of a Church down south a way, where they RENT a building so that they can give more to missions!

Paul then announces the principle, that what you sow you reap, that God cannot be mocked. If you spend yourself and your funds on selfish squalor or even mere selfishness, then what do you expect to reap ? what is it all about then ? Sow to spiritual things, and reap them. This is a general rule and applies in the use of your mind, your spirit in prayer, in supplication, in intercession and in ready waiting on the Lord for His will in your life in all things (Colossians 1:9-11, Ephesians 5:17, 6:18)

What then of your godly projects which you are following through with zeal ? DO NOT BE WEARY OF THEM, says Paul, keep at it, for you will REAP if you do not get loose, become 'faint' - that is, become faint-hearted, flaccid or indulgent.  Therefore, as you have opportunity, do not be a 'do-gooder', a term for the ethically vacuous sort of thing which is merely a derivative from Christ, but do what the Bible calls good in the name of Christ (Colossians 3:17), and have a tang or savour of saltiness with it.  Remember to be ESPECIALLY helpful to the 'household of faith', a term which reminds you of brotherhood under one Father; for not ALL men are brothers, but those who have the same Father. Of some, alas, Christ told them that they were from their father, the devil! (John 8:44). Let us hear Him (colour change added,  for emphasis only):

"You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?

"He who is of God hears Godís words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God."

Act as the child of the Father, not the father of this world's pomp and devious deceitfulness!


III  Glory the Focus, the Cross its Site


Now, having traced the principles, Paul returns to the particular. If someone wants to have an additive to Christ, like arsenic to aspro we might say, then this is a 'fair show in the flesh'. In the Galatian case, it would be a show of power and influence on the part of the legalisers, to have their dupes circumcised in a way quite inept for the current Covenant of Grace: that is, to have it so as if it were a religious obligation still.

Many invent many such avenues of disgrace, to add to grace, and try to bind them; but they are all from one brush, and it is best to avoid any such brush, lest the very devil paint.

Paul then announces the supervening, the illustrious principle: GOD FORBID that I should boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by (which or whom) I am crucified to the world, and the world to me! (Galatians 6:14).

Circumcision ? what a mockery: it is irrelevant in the current New Covenant context. Walk in this clear, clean air of grace, and then may grace and mercy be yours. I speak, says Paul, in effect, as a warrior. My marks from travels and accidents and shipwrecks and beatings speak of my place. Transfer therefore your attention to yourselves, and be utterly sincere with spiritual things. Given to God, be centred on the Cross of Christ, which speaks of love, pardon, mercy, grace, divine diligence and the completion of the entire task of salvation. Since it is in HIM that it is complete, then when YOU are in HIM, YOU are complete too! (as in Eph. 1:6, Colossians 1:27, 2:10). Rejoice in that fact, in the Lord indeed, and USE this pure principle for peace and power in Galatians 6:14, and having obtained an inheritance (Eph. 1:11), apply with relish every gift in its place in the body of the Lord, by faith, in love.