Kudos to my parents, grandparents, and all the others who were fond of quoting this verse! No doubt their reason in doing so was simply to instill within me, along with my siblings, my cousins, et. al., a basic work ethic. And in my case, at least, it certainly worked. Trust me; I quickly learned that I did not want to be viewed as the one slacker around the house and farm! What is more, down through the years, as I have followed this advice, it has served me well.
But these days, I find that certain other of Paul’s admonitions in this same chapter have equal significance for me. One example is from verse 1, where he states:
“Dear 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. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.”
Granted, the latter portion of this verse admonishes us as individuals not to fall prey to temptation to “some sin”, whatever shortcoming that may be. I pray I will always do my best to heed this warning. But having lived much of my life, I now understand a little bit more of how susceptible any and all of us are to falling prey to temptation and sin. Let he who is among us without sin cast the first stone!
But the initial portion of this verse bears attention as well. Our responsibility as believers is to look for ways to help restore fellow believers who have fallen prey to temptation and sin. After all, it is only in so doing that we reflect the spirit of Jesus Christ, is it not?
One has to wonder, then, why we are so often quick to distance ourselves from a fellow believer who has stumbled! Beware, brothers and sisters, if you are one so quick to abandon a fallen comrade. There, but for the grace of God, go you!
But it is yet another admonition given by Paul in Galatians 6 that I wish to emphasize today – the one found in verse 2, where he states: “Bear one another's burdens and thus you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Wow! Talk about responsibility! Carrying your own weight is one thing. But carrying yours and your brother’s or sister’s is another thing altogether! The first is commendable in that it is doing what is expected by society. The second is praiseworthy in that it is doing much, much more than what is expected by society!
In recent blog posts, I have spoken of the spring winds we have been experiencing here in eastern Tennessee. As a consequence, one of the pine trees in our woods broke about two feet above the ground; and, as a result, it leaned over onto an equivalent sized poplar tree.
This week, I had a tree surgeon out to assess the tree and see if it could be saved. Sadly, he told me that it could not. He further stated that I should be glad for the poplar, which had actually kept the stricken pine standing, thereby preventing it from falling across the driveway.
Consequently, he took the tree down. But the way he cut it was to take out the bottom three feet and allow the remaining trunk to slip down to the ground, while still leaning on the adjacent poplar. He repeated this process, three feet at a time, until the pine tree eventually stood a mere six feet tall and toppled over.
Now, I have no idea just how he knew how to cut the pine in order to make it step itself down this way. But I do know that he could not have managed this if the adjacent poplar tree had not been there all along, assisting him by holding up the pine each time he made a cut.
I trust you see the point here. The poplar tree stood by the stricken pine. Irrespective of the level of damage done to the pine by its own experiences, the adjacent poplar tree stood by and faithfully supported it through its ordeal. In simple terms: the poplar did right by the pine! It did its part and more!
As I have reflected on this matter, I have asked myself over and over again just how many times I might have been given the opportunity (and responsibility) to support a stricken brother or sister. But I have asked myself more. I have asked myself, not only how sensitive I was to those opportunities when they came my way, but how faithful I was to stand tall when I did recognize them!
The resultant conviction has been profound. And for this reason, I have concluded that I now need to stand tall! Whether or not I have always been faithful in the past, I now hope to be in the future. After all, doing so is not just in my best interest. It’s also in the best interest of the poor individual(s) next to me who has (have) sadly been stricken.
My Lord and Savior can relate!