“But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load.” Galatians 6:6
During the wild and crazy days of The Jesus Revolution, there was a question that was often raised when Jesus People gathered together. Almost 50 years later, it is worth asking again.
“If you were accused of the crime of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence available to convict you?”
Paul challenged the Galatian believers to prove themselves, by examining, not by excusing themselves. He said, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (v.2) When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He responded with two, “First love God. Second love your neighbor.”
The Proof is love, vertical and horizontal. The Proof of a believer is not found in evidence of their education. It is found in the results of their examination.
Tearing down others to build up one’s self has been developed into an art form by many within the church. Painstakingly and relentlessly dissecting the faults of brothers and sisters never improves the fellowship. Self-appointed fruit inspectors do not have good standing with God, or with the family of God.
Paul made a case for restoring people surprised by temptation. With gentle hands, believers were challenged to humbly remember, except for the grace of God, they could be caught in the same trap.
The gentlest hands are guided by praying hearts broken by the sin observed in others. They are not overjoyed by it, but they do not ignore it.
“Discernment is given for intercession, never fault-finding.”
Oswald Chambers (British preacher, teacher, philosopher, and WW I army chaplain who died in Egypt in 1914)
Over a hundred years ago, Oswald Chambers observed the danger of hypocrites posing as concerned believers within The Body of Christ. He called for proof of concern of another person’s burden, by responding with immediate intercession for anyone caught in sin. Posers intensify inspection. Prayer warriors engage in intercession. The proof is in the praying.
Those who try to find joy in exposing someone’s sin will never have their thirst satisfied. Inspecting without interceding is like drinking salt water. At best it leaves a bitter after taste, and if continued unabated it leads to death. Those who choose to live in “The Land of OS” will resist the urge for inspection, and invest their energy in intercession.
Bearing burdens begins by caring enough to pray, and praying leads to meeting needs. This was not an open invitation for users of the system to become abusers of it. The Jewish synagogue had a support system for those who were hit by hard times. When the church was started in Gentile communities, there was nothing like this kind of benevolent safety net. Jesus created it.
The love of God in the heart of a believer creates a concern for the needs of His children. The reciprocal, “one another” passages of Scripture reveal an immediate bond between people who may not be blood relatives, but they share the experience of being adopted into a loving family that The Father has created.
“Bearing one another’s burdens” begins with praying for others on a spiritual level, but it leads to caring for them on a physical level. The beauty of The Body of Christ is the pain that is experienced when one part of The Body is hurt, and the swift response that is made by family members to meet a need.
“Restore” paints a word picture that describes the resetting and knitting of a broken bone, or the replacement of a joint separated from its socket. Anyone who has ever experienced either one of these traumas knows that there is not only a need, but there is also a need for speed. Even the most insignificant part of the physical body can create significant pain and initiate a swift response to ease intense pain.
The Proof is in the praying, and praying brings real joy. Proving one’s own works, or carrying one’s own load requires a prayer life marked by integrity and intensity. People who carry their own load pray for the strength to avoid sin, and the grace to restore those who have been caught in it. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!
“The true way to have rejoicing in ourselves is to be much in proving our own works, in examining ourselves by the unerring rule of God’s word, and not by the false measures of what others are, or may think of us.” Matthew Henry