People of the Spirit? People called to express their faith in love? Then those people need to know the specifics of Spirit-led loving. Here, Paul gives us four:
1. Hold out grace to the broken sinner (v.1). Paul has restoration in view. That is only possible where there’s repentance. Where there is after sin, we need to work out how to bring that believer back into fellowship with the church, and that’s not highhandedly, but sensitively and carefully. Do we harbour grudges, or are we, as our Master taught us, willing to forgive seventy times seven times?
2. Serve each other (v.2). Kingdom life is shared life. Don’t be lazy, or exploit others (carry your own burdens, if you can, v.5), but don’t remove yourself from others’ needs. You were saved to serve. Are you serving?
3. Stay humble (v.3). Nothing has the temptation to puff us up like service. We serve, and we are tempted to feel smug and important. Servants are nobodies, and they never will be anybodies, at least, not this side of heaven. Remember this.
4. Thank the preacher (v.6). Go on, do it.
This is the Cross-centred life. Avoid it, and you will end up serving yourself, affectively sowing for this world’s uncertain and fleeting rewards. Such efforts come with a massive health warning (v.8). Instead, invest your life in serving other people in the name of Christ – that alone is work guaranteed to blossom in eternity (vv.9-10).
Paul closes with a final appeal, and a final warning (vv.11-18). These Galatians need to make a decisive break with their false teachers and their false message. They need to embrace the Cross: persecution will come with it, but Jesus will be theirs. Life will be hard, but it will be real life, given and guided by the Holy Spirit, a world away from empty religion.
The Letter to the Galatians is a gift. Through it God calls His church to stay close to Jesus, and to Him alone. In Him is life, and that life is the light of men.
A Prayer to Pray
Father, thankyou for the gift of Your radiant, triumphing Son. Please show me where I am tempted to slip into the rules of men, away from the freedom of Your grace. And may His life-giving death mean more and more to me as the years go on. Amen.