A lot of times, we think of our relationship with God merely in terms of how we relate to him. We think, “Am I reading my Bible? Am I praying? Am I going to church?”
But as we look at our relationship with him and how spiritually healthy we are as Christians, an important gauge of these things is how we relate to others.
We see this throughout this entire passage. It seems that within the midst of this controversy about circumcision and the need to follow Jewish law, a lot of interpersonal relationship problems were popping out in Galatia: discord, dissensions, and factions, jealous and envy, and the provoking of others to anger. And so Paul warns them,
If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (5:15)
He then shows us the fruit that should be seen in our lives as we deal with each other: love, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. (Galatians 5:22-23)
And as we saw yesterday, he told the Galatians, “You crucified your old way of life. Don’t go back to it. Don’t indulge in it. Rather, walk each day in step with the Spirit. But you can’t do that when you’re conceited, constantly provoking and envying one another. (5:24-26)
How then should we act toward each other? Paul becomes fiercely practical in chapter 6. He says,
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. (6:1)
Two of the major problems with legalistic Christianity are pride and condemnation. Pride in that “I’m good,” and condemnation in that “You’re not.” And so it’s possible in Galatia that whenever someone fell into sin, the others fell on that person like a pack of wolves.
But Paul says, “Are you truly spiritual? Are you truly led by God’s Spirit in your life? Is his fruit coming out of your life? Then this is what it looks like: Gentleness. Kindness. Love. Patience. And it’s with that spirit that you should deal with that person. Don’t look to destroy them. Look to restore them. And do it with a spirit of humility knowing that you are weak too. Know that you can fall too. So don’t just look at other people’s faults. Keep watch on yourself as well.”
Paul says further,
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (6:2)
Looking at the context, it seems that Paul is specifically talking about supporting others when they are burdened with the guilt of their own sin and their struggle against it. And he says, “Do you want to fulfill the law of Christ in your life? Don’t be devouring those who are struggling with sin. Support them. Pray for them.”
This of course extends beyond simply dealing with others’ sins to every part of their lives. When a person is struggling with problems that are beyond their ability to handle, stand by their side and support them.
That’s what a truly spiritual person looks like. Not just reading their Bibles. Not just praying. But bursting with the fruit of the Spirit in all their relationships.
I have to admit, I’m not sure my life always looks like that. But I want that. How about you?