Operating in the Spirit of Goodness
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Delivered By
Pastor Ed Dinkins
Delivered On
January 18, 2015
Central Passage
Galatians 6:1-10
Third Sunday Service

Commentary - Data Source: Excerpt - "Freedom to Fulfill Responsibilities"

     "Sowing to please the Spirit means "serving one another in love" (5:13), restoring one who has been caught in sin (6:1), carrying the burdens of others (6:2), giving generously to those who teach in the church (6:6) and doing good to all (6:9). Sometimes sowing to the Spirit has been defined in terms of private, personal holiness, as if it were something done in a closet by oneself. But sowing to the Spirit in the context of Paul's teaching here involves building love relationships with others. Sowing to the Spirit cannot be done in isolation or separation from others. Carrying the burdens of others requires in-depth participation in their pain and sorrow. As we see in verse 9, sowing to the Spirit means doing good to others. If sowing to the sinful nature means selfish indulgence, then sowing to the Spirit means selfless service. The harvest of sowing to the Spirit is eternal life. The meaning of eternal life must be understood within the "already-not yet" structure of Paul's thought in this letter. From Paul's perspective, Christians have already been delivered from the present evil age (1:4) and are already in the new creation (6:15). But the battle between the Spirit and the sinful nature is not yet over (5:17). In Christ we already have new relationships with God and with one another: we now relate not as slaves but as children who call God Father (4:6-7); and we relate to one another not as people divided by racial, social and gender barriers but as people united in Christ (3:28). But since the battle between the Spirit and the sinful nature continues, we do not yet experience total harmony in these relationships. Those who continue to grow in these relationships by the power of the Spirit will ultimately experience the fullness of eternal life--perfect harmony in relationship with God and others.Doing Good (6:9-10)

     Growth in our relationships does not happen automatically; growth takes effort. Hard work is required if broken relationships are to be rebuilt. In these two verses Paul simply encourages Christians to keep on working at building their relationships: Let us not become weary in doing good (v. 9). To say that Paul's emphasis on faith means that he was against works is obviously an inaccurate interpretation. Although he warned against relying on the works of the law as the basis of blessing (3:10-14), he clearly taught that true faith expresses itself through love (5:6) and in the hard work of serving one another (5:13) and carrying each other's burdens (6:2).

     One of the greatest obstacles to rebuilding broken relationships is simply fatigue. We can easily lose heart and run out of strength when we come up against the same problems over and over again as we deal with others. Even Paul sounds discouraged when he talks about his efforts to rebuild his relationship with the Galatian believers: "I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you" (4:11). Paul recognized that fatigue and discouragement might cause Christians to throw in the servant's towel and quit. So he presents two incentives to keep us from giving up when we grow weary of serving others in love. First, he assures us of a reward for doing good: at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (v. 9). Sometimes the harvest is experienced in this life. When we sow acts of love, we reap a harvest of love in return. When we give generously and sacrificially to the needs of others, we reap a harvest of gratitude as those needs are met. When we sow the seed of God's Word in needy lives, we experience the joy of response. But we must remember that reaping a harvest almost never happens on the same day as sowing the seed. We may not even see a harvest in this life from what we have sown. Nevertheless, we must never give up, because we know that at the proper time our Master will return and reward those who have been faithful servants.

     Second, Paul motivates perseverance in service to one another by reminding us that we are part of a great family:Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (v. 10). Although there are no limits placed on the scope of our service to all people, our priority is certainly to serve the family of believers. Here Paul picks up a central theme of his letter. All believers are children of Abraham by faith in Christ, the seed of Abraham (3:6-29). All believers enjoy the full rights of the children of God (4:4-7). All believers are the true children of the free woman; the heavenly Jerusalem is our mother (4:21-31). These great truths about the family of believers should motivate us to keep on doing good to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We belong to one another in one family, since we belong to Christ."

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