by Pastor David Groendyk
Use your new-found freedom to serve other people. That’s Paul’s closing plea. Since Christ has done the work of saving us, and since we are no longer condemned by the law, spend your time and energy seeking the good of others. Obey God’s law so that other people would benefit.
One way we do that is by humbly keeping watch over other people (vv. 1–5). We heard a sermon on this text a couple months ago. If you have time, re-listen to it in light of everything else we’ve read in Galatians. The general idea is that we need one another to help us not sin. Whether it’s a private or public sin, we all need friends that we can trust who are willing to speak hard truths in order to restore us to God. That means we need to have people who know us well, know us intimately, know us spiritually. It is good to surround yourself with people who ask you about your personal faith, holiness, and sin. The deeper and more personal questions that probe you can be uncomfortable, but those friends are pushing you to be closer to Christ. Do you have any of these friends? Even just one is a good start. Do you have a friend who has free reign to ask you anything and to whom you will give totally honest answers? If not, seek one out for the sake of your soul.
Of course, these verses are also pushing us to be the questioner. And lest we get too puffed up, Paul is quick to give us the “how” of restoring someone from their transgression. Notice the words and phrases he uses: “spiritual”, “spirit of gentleness”, “lest you too be tempted”, “if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing…”, “let each one test his own work”. The prevailing idea is that we must always come at this work gently and humbly, knowing that we also are sinners who can fall into the same exact trap. Restoring someone from sin is not just a matter of right and wrong. The “how” matters. None of us are perfect, so we shouldn’t act like we are! Remember that you also are helpless apart from the grace of God.
Another way we use our freedom is to invest our time, energy, and material possessions in the work of God’s kingdom (vv. 6–10). Are you investing your resources in building up your own personal earthly kingdom? Or are you investing your resources in building God’s kingdom by preaching the gospel to those who have never heard it? If you invest in an earthly kingdom, then you will be rewarded only with earthly treasure. And the saying is trustworthy, “You’ll never see a U-haul behind a hearse.” You can do all the earthly good you want, but if souls do not trust in Christ for eternal salvation as a result of your work, then you might want to re-think your investment strategy. Invest in what matters. Do good and preach the gospel. Do good by preaching the gospel. Are you investing in the life after this one?
Paul closes this letter by reminding the church to keep the main thing the main thing (vv. 11–18). False teachers in this church were requiring converts to be circumcised in order to really count as being saved. That was flat-out unbiblical. Paul’s message is to stay true to the gospel. No Christian is ever greater or lesser because of circumcision. All that matters is trusting in Christ. In what ways are you tempted to view certain brothers and sisters in Christ as “less than” other Christians based on secondary issues? Remember that the only thing that counts is being made a new creation by Christ.