In the first part of this chapter, Paul tells us that when others are caught in sin, we are to restore them with gentleness. So many times, however, this is simply not done. Instead, often times, Christians do this with a spirit of condescension. Why is that?
I think a lot of it is due to the fact that we forget that we too stand by grace alone. And because we forget that, we get caught up in comparing ourselves with others.
You see this at the tail end of chapter 5, Paul told the Galatians,
Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (5:26)
When we are conceited, we inevitably compare ourselves with others. In some cases that leads us to provoke others by our pride because we see ourselves as better than them. In other cases, we envy them because they have what we don’t.
Either way, when they fall, it gives us the chance to knock them down a peg. But that is not the spirit we should have.
We need to remember that we are all really nothing apart from Christ. All we are, all we have, is by his grace. And Paul says that if we forget that, we deceive ourselves. (3)
So grace doesn’t rejoice when others stumble because it somehow makes us look better. Rather, it causes us to look with compassion on the one who falls, and to want to help them out from under their burden of sin. Grace reminds us that we are judged not on a sliding scale based on how others perform. Rather, we are judged on God’s scale. And we are called to account for our own load of sin, regardless of how others “perform.”
All this leads to humility and gratefulness at the grace we have received, so that we don’t boast in ourselves, but in the cross of Christ and what he has done.
Grace also reminds us that none of our value comes from what we do, even in ministry. One of the reasons that the Jewish Christians wanted to get the Gentiles circumcised was so they could boast about what they had done among the Gentiles.
How many Christians get their value from their ministry? And because of this, they are always pointing at the people they have converted or discipled, and all the other things they do for Christ.
But Paul says,
But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. (14)
Important as ministry is, it is not where our worth comes from. We stand, not because of what we do, but because of what Christ has done. And so Paul says,
For both circumcision and uncircumcision (nor any other things you might boast about) mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation.
And becoming a new creation is not something we did. It’s what God did.
So let us boast not in what we do, or who we are. Rather, each day let us boast in who Jesus is and what he has done.