Bearing One Another’s Burdens
Sermon Text: Galatians 6:1-5
Study Texts: Romans 15:1-7
Sermon Recap: In this week’s sermon text, we see Paul making direct application of the idea of freedom in Christ to the realities of Christian community. As a part of being in Christ, the Christian is given the Holy Spirit and all the benefits that come with His presence. A natural exercise of that gifting is true spiritual care and concern for others in the faith family. Paul says “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” The Christian’s freedom in Christ is not freedom from all confines and concerns but freedom to holiness and Christlikeness. Therefore, one of the primary ways we exercise that inside the Church is by caring for and guarding one another against sin. Although we will each give an individual account to God for our own lives, we are also held accountable for the lives of our brothers and sisters in the faith.
Sermon Connection: Just as we have seen so many times, Romans provides an excellent counterpart to Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches. In our study text of Rm. 15, Paul is dealing with the very issue of Gal. 6: Christians care for one another. Whereas the world tends toward self-satisfaction, self-betterment and success at all costs, the Christian is called to humble himself before the Lord, to put aside personal ambition, personal preference and even comfort for the sake of other Christians. In this text, Paul is calling upon those in the church who are spiritually mature to bear with and help the weaker brothers and sisters. We are not to only look after ourselves and our families. Rather, because God grants us His divine endurance and encouragement, we seek unity and harmony in the Church for the glory of God in the world. Sometimes this means putting aside ourselves, our preferences and our desires for the sake of a weaker believer. Sometimes it means letting others get their way in order to maintain unity. We welcome one another for the glory of God!
Lesson Goal: To see that true Christianity includes true concern for and submission to one another; we are to bear one another’s burdens for the glory of God.
Point 1: Christian Obligations (vv. 1-2)
Point 2: The Example of Christ (vv. 3-4)
Point 3: Harmony and Glory (vv. 5-7)
The Context: Our study text picks up in the middle of an extended portion of application. Paul, having given an ample understanding of God and salvation, is now speaking of Christian duty and obligation. If the Church is to succeed, she must unite around Christ and not allow wordly differences to impede such. Thus, in chapter 14, Paul gives an extended discussion of submitting to one another in a multitude of situations for the sake of not offending one another’s faith, not impeding one another’s sanctification. Having noted these things, Paul begins chapter 15...
Opening Question: Is your faith weak or strong; is it like a lion in a zoo who looks strong but has never been tested? OR are more like a palm tree; not very strong on your own but having a solid root structure and enduring many storms?
Point 1 - Christian Obligations (vv. 1-2)
- What does Paul mean in saying, “We who are strong...”? What kind of strength is he referring to?
- Who are the weak? What is the nature of their failures and weakness?
- According to verse 1, what are the obligations of the strong? How does this help us further understand Galatians 6:1-2?
- What is the purpose/goal for which the strong bear with the weak (v. 2)? Why does this demand true Christian character?
Point 2 - The Example of Christ (vv. 3-4)
Paul wants to ensure we understand the God-centeredness of the instructions he is giving.
- How does verse 3 help us to understand Jesus?
- How does Psalm 69:9 help us understand what is Paul saying about Jesus and the cross? How does it apply to our understanding of bearing with one another?
Point 3 - Harmony and Glory (vv. 5-7)
- How do the divine attributes of endurance and encouragement factor into this discussion?
- According to verse 5, can peace and harmony be obtained by our own efforts?
- How does verse 5 help us to better understand Christian community? What does it look like?
- According to verse 6, what is the highest motivation and goal for bearing with one another?
- Having heard and seen all of this, what does Paul mean, “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God”?
The Big Picture
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a 20th Century German pastor/theologian and martyr once said, “...Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God (Rm. 15:7). Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other everyday from the bottom of your hearts.” This is a fitting summation of all that we have studied. It is a dishonor to the name of Christ when we put ourselves before our brothers and sisters. Praise be to God that through Christ, we are able to see past ourselves, to put aside our own worldly sinfulness and give ourselves for the sake of others, patterning our lives after King Jesus. Amen!
- Based on this text, are you spiritually strong or weak? Explain…
- How can you see the example of Christ’s humility playing out in your life and home?
- Has your view of Christian welcome changed? How?
- How is your growth group welcoming one another for the glory of God?
- In what ways can your group improve and mature concerning helping the spiritually weak?