Galatians 6:1-5 shows a three-fold care system for the church that comes from restoring self-worth
Galatians 6:1-5: Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. (ESV)
This morning I have a question for you. How do you measure your self-worth? When I was in the process of publishing my book, almost all publishers were more interested in my social media presence than my work because today, the worth of people and products is measured by likes and following on social media. I am not against social media because it helps us to reach more people with the gospel, but I am against this idea of measuring self-worth by likes and following on social media.
Psychologists will tell you that “self-worth should be less about measuring yourself based on external actions and more about valuing your inherent worth as a person. In other words, self-worth is about who you are, not about what you do.” We need to restore self-worth.
In Galatians 6:1-5, Paul addressed the issue of church discipline among the Galatians because those who found self-worth in external religious works, that would be the legalists, were judging and condemning those caught in sin for not doing enough to meet their religious standards. Both the ones caught in sin and the legalists who condemned them both were in need of restoring their self-worth in Jesus.
Every vice in our Christian life is deeply rooted in this idea of self-worth, which is who we are and not what we do, and only by restoring our self-worth in Jesus can we restore believers caught in sin.
Where do you draw your self-worth from? If it is from legalistic works, you will demand penalizing the person already devastated by sin. But if it is from Jesus, then Galatians 6:1-5 shows a three-fold care system for the church that comes from restoring self-worth in Jesus.
Restore, Not Condemn
If our self-worth is in Jesus, we do not condemn others but rather restore them. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
Paul is talking about church discipline, and the outcome completely depends on the Galatians’ self-worth, which is who they are, not what they do. If their self-worth is in Jesus, they will not condemn a person caught in sin but restore him or her in gentleness. Now if anyone here feels that I am speaking directly to you, please remember we are going verse by verse. And if the Lord is convicting your heart because we landed on this section today, then pay attention to His voice.
Chapter five focuses on our responsibility toward sin, but chapter six focuses on our responsibility toward sinners and, more specifically, how a sinner in a Christian community should be restored.
Notice three truths in this verse:
First, “caught in any transgression.” “Caught” in Greek, prolambanō, has the sense of being taken over unexpectedly. When applied to the one caught in sin, it means he or she was not actively looking to sin, but rather sin trapped them at a vulnerable point.
When applied to the one who caught them in sin, he or she was not looking to catch a brother or sister in Christ in sin but rather unexpectedly stumbled on to it. Both are believers, and both have a collaborative dependent responsibility in the process of their spiritual formation to walk in the Spirit. Believers can stumble, but they should always seek restoration.
Second, “restore him in gentleness.” The word in Greek for restore is katartizō which is “to mend.” In common Greek use, it is to set a broken or disjoined bone back into the socket. Now, here again, when applied to the one caught in a sin, it means that though disjoined, the sinner is not severed. Therefore, he or she still belongs to the body of Christ and should be restored gently, or else the whole body will feel the pain.
When applied to the one who does the restoring, they must be spiritually mature and experienced in helping believers caught in sin return to their pre-broken usefulness, or else they will inflict more harm than good.
Let me give you an example. My wife had to get her blood work done some time ago, and her veins were hard to find. The medical professional poked her nine times with no success. Finally, Sarah’s mom, who is a retired medical professional, stepped in, and she drew the blood painlessly. The same is true with spiritually mature people. They will always operate from the place of grace, love, and mercy to restore the one caught in sin with gentleness, demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.
Let me ask you this, if you are struggling with sin, who would you rather go to, to the one who will deal with you in gentleness or to someone who will condemn you? If you wanted to be treated gently, why should you not offer the same gentleness to those caught in sin?
Finally, “keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Why? Because “temptation,” peirasmos or peirazo in Greek, is when believers do not go out looking for trials and temptations, just like those who were caught in sin were trapped in sin unexpectedly. Temptation can fall on you unexpectedly too.
In the context of our text, the temptation is mishandling the Christian discipline with a legalistic approach, which usually leads to religious extremism and vengeance. God says vengeance is mine. Paul was one of those religious extremists until Jesus confronted him, and the gospel changed him. He knew the temptation of self-righteousness and legalism.
When the gospel restored Paul’s self-worth in Jesus, he understood his worth was not in what he did but who he was in Jesus. This is how he became the preacher of the gospel of grace.
Bear the Burdens, Not Judge
If our self-worth is in Jesus, we do not judge others but rather bear their burdens. Verse 2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Verse 5 says, “For each will have to bear his own load.” The “burden” here is baros in Greek which is anything grievous or hard to be borne.
The principle Paul introduces here is a communal approach to caring for and carrying each other’s burdens. Verses 2 and 5 may seem contradictory, but they are interconnected because it is about the community. Notice in verse 1, Paul had addressed them as brothers, in Greek adelphos, which refers to Christian community members. He enforced this by saying in verse 1, “you who are spiritual,” that is, those who walk by the Spirit, which he defined and described in chapter 5.
Why does Paul put such an emphasis on reminding them who they are? Because their self-worth is not about what they do but who they are, which affects how they treat themselves and others. Verse 2 and verse 5 have the idea of one for all and all for one. If one member suffers, all suffer together. All rejoice together if one member is honored (1 Cor. 12:25-26).
A good illustration would be of a football team playing together, pushing forward together toward the goal yard by yard. Just as every team player has to put in their best and carry the team to the finish line, we all individually do that for the body as we carry each other’s weaknesses.
Our problem is that we live in an individualistic society where every man is for himself, which has influence over the church. The mindset of “if I can carry my own burdens, so should you” is destructive and divisive. It makes us judge others, and they feel judged for not carrying their own burdens.
Verse 2 says we fulfill the law of Christ when we carry each other’s burdens because the law of Christ is to love your neighbors. So, what is the application? Carry each other’s burdens and do not judge, or else you will be judged by the one true judge in heaven.
Compare Not with Others, But with Self
If our self-worth is in Jesus, we do not compare with others but rather compare with self. Verses 3-5 say, “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.”
Is Paul promoting low self-esteem in verse 3? No. This goes back to being a mature believer and knowing your self-worth in Jesus. That is who you are, not what you do. This is why Paul is teaching that the Christian life is not a shortsighted self-comparison with others but rather a comparison with the old self and what the Spirit has done in our lives since then.
Those who find their self-worth in legalistic works and religious acts care more about rules, regulations, and appearances than the souls of individuals and the unity of the church. When compared with their old selves, they prove not to be walking in the spirit.
In the absence of grace in their own life, they validate their religiosity by condemning others and comparing themselves with those who are struggling with sin. Paul says they may think that they are better than those who seem to have fallen, but they are not.
Turn with me to Luke 18:10-14. I want to show you what Jesus thinks of such people. Jesus said, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’”
Now notice what Jesus, God incarnate, has to say in verse 14 about the two men: “I tell you [Jesus said], this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
When we judge, condemn, and compare our own righteousness with those found in sin, it produces hostility among believers. It creates a dishonest and fearful environment where Christians struggling with sin cannot truly share and seek help.
What is the application here? If you compare yourself with others, whether to make yourself feel better or to challenge yourself to be more like others, in both cases, stop comparing yourself with others and compare with yourself. Your self-worth is not about what you do or don’t do. It is about who you are in Jesus, and your self-worth determines how you will treat others caught in sin.
A while back, my wife Sarah walked into a second-hand store and noticed a fairly new pair of boots marked at $12. She immediately bought them because she knew their worth. They were $200 dollar boots. She wore them for many years, and they were her favorite shoes.
Do you know what you are worth? The Bible says you were bought with a price, and the price was the precious blood of Christ on the cross. This price was paid for both the one caught in sin and the one who found them in sin. When our self-worth is in Jesus, we do not condemn others but restore them; we do not judge others but rather bear their burdens; we do not compare with others but rather compare with self.
Watch how you measure your worth and the worth of others. Don’t confuse self-worth with self-esteem. Otherwise, you will work on the external, measuring yourself against others rather than paying attention to your intrinsic value in Jesus. Your self-worth is about who you are and not what you do.
When you know that your self-worth is in Jesus, not only do you bear your own load as a member of the body of Christ, but you bear the burden of others because you are one in Christ. The way it works is this, when each bears his or her own burden, they carry the whole community forward. The welfare of the community is in the welfare of its individuals, and the welfare of individuals is in the welfare of the community. This is why the goal of discipline is restoration and not condemnation. So, be gentle and not judgmental because, in the process of restoration, the objective is to carry and not bury the individual caught in sin.
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