I have one more thought before I fold up Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia and open his letter to the church in Ephesus. There is an admonition he gives to these dear people at the close of his letter that has troubled me greatly in the past.
1Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.Galatians 6:1
Perhaps it is my own misunderstanding, but these words were weaponized in my past. They were used to develop camps of us – those who are godly – and them – those who are overcome by sin. We, the godly, are to point out the failings of them, the sinners, to bring them back to the right path. Then Paul goes on to say this:
2Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. . . .5For we are each responsible for our own conduct.Galatians 1:2, 5
So am I responsible to help carry the other person’s burden or am I only responsible for my own life?
Today it seems an unlikely understanding of Paul’s words. But it wasn’t until I tore apart the verse in my first Greek classes in college that I finally understood Paul’s concern.
I would like to take the liberty to paraphrase what Paul said. I am putting this in my own words, staying true to what I believe Paul was saying without any attempt to directly translate the original language.
Hey friends, if some sin takes a fellow believer by surprise, help him or her out. Don’t just stand by and watch them destroyed. Steady them, hold them up, walk beside them. But remember your own ability to fall and be careful that pride or arrogance doesn’t trip you up. It could just as easily be you taken by surprise and caught in sin’s trap. Be ready to stake yourself to your brother or sister until they can walk on their own. It is what Jesus would do.
Today, if you find yourself taken by surprise unable to wrestle free from the trap of sin, tell someone. Don’t try to go it alone. That is what the body of Christ is intended to provide.
Today, if you see someone struggling under the heavy weight of sin, stake yourself to them and don’t let go until their strength returns. It is what Jesus would do.
Be Jesus to someone today!