By Keri Folmar
Galatians is a book full of doctrine. In it we learn of the true gospel of Jesus Christ, “who gave himself for our sins” (1:4). But embracing the gospel means a transformed life. In chapter five, Paul transitions from doctrine to instructions on how to live in light of this doctrine. For Paul, believing the gospel produces Spirit-filled living that bears fruit.
Chapter six continues to explain what it means to crucify the flesh and live by the Spirit. The chapter is noticeably centered on the church, the “Israel of God” (v. 16). Paul assumes believers are not lone-rangers but are committed to one another in the church. He tells them how to care for each other. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (v. 2). The law of Christ is not the Mosaic law with its rules and regulations, but can be summed up as Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself.
We bear one another’s burdens by restoring sinners, sharing with teachers, and “doing good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (v. 10). This requires humility and generosity with our money, our time and our energy. When we bear one another’s burdens, whether they are spiritual, financial, physical or emotional, we refuse to leave that brother or sister behind. And as we use our resources to help others in our church, we reap eternal benefits, rather than investing in treasure on earth that will one day decay.
This is how we crucify the world to us and boast only in the cross of Christ (v.14). We become dead to the world and the world becomes dead to us. All of the desires and attractions of the world that once dominated us pale in comparison to Christ. Money, appearance, reputation, intelligence, lust, idols, everything that used to look so good, now looks like rotting corpses compared to the surpassing beauty of Christ. We want him more than anything else, and we want to use everything for his glory.
So we boast in him. And we are alive to Christ and his church, which was purchased by his blood. We build up the church by admitting what sinners we are and proclaiming Christ as the great Savior. We talk about his word and what we’re learning about him. We tell of how we have grown and how we’re fighting our sin. We boast about others in the church and how Christ has saved them and is working in them. We give God praise as we herald the arrival of a “new creation,” (v.15), which is the only thing that ultimately counts.
So how are you using the good gifts that God has given you? Take a look at your bank account, your calendar, your home, and your talents. Do you share all good things with those who teach you? Are you using these things to do good to everyone when you have opportunity, especially your brothers and sisters in the church?
One of the greatest blessings of the Christian life is that we are not called to live it alone. It is a privilege to be committed, not only to Christ, but also to his people. We bear one another’s burdens. We do good to each other. And as his new creations we will glorify God together for eternity.
Keri Folmar is the wife of John Folmar, pastor of the United Christian Church of Dubai, an evangelical church in the Middle East, and the mother of three children. Keri disciples and teaches women in addition to leading and writing Bible studies. Her Bible study, Joy! A Bible Study on Philippians for Women, is available from Cruciform Press. Before marrying John, Keri was a lawyer and served as the chief counsel for the House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Constitution where she was the staff writer of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban.