Sunday, February 12, 2012

Taking Care of the Family

A sermon outline/Bible study of Galatians 6:1-10 developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett and preached at Lyndon Center Baptist Church, Lyndon Center, VT, and Faith Community Church, Barre, VT.

             Galatians was written by the apostle Paul to churches that he had started to reach non-Jews.
             Some Jewish Christians told the non-Jewish believers that they had to follow all the Old Testament laws and Jewish traditions in order to be real Christians.
Paul made it clear that salvation is by FAITH in Christ and not through religious rituals.
             Paul also showed that if we have genuine faith in Christ and are living that faith out in loving service to others, then we will find great freedom in our faith and will bear much spiritual fruit for the Kingdom of God.
             It is very difficult to live that kind of spiritual life on our own. We need to be part of a healthy family of faith in order to be all that God wants us to be.

Verse 1 - Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
             When the New Testament uses the terms “brothers” or “sisters,” it refers to the family of God.
             The church should be a loving family.
             Regretfully, churches often look more like dysfunctional families in need of serious help.
             Churches often show their dysfunction when someone in the group is “caught” in a sin.
             This could refer to a person who was sinning on purpose and finally got caught.
             It is important to note that eventually EVERYONE gets caught!
             Being caught could also apply to a person who gave in to temptation in a moment of weakness and suddenly found themselves caught in a situation they did not want.
             Either way, the person sinned and is now caught.
             When a person in the church is caught in a sin, other people in the church who are trying to live by the Spirit should try to help.
             There is a fine line between “helping” and “judging.”
             We should work hard to find that line and stay on the helping side of it because we all will have our turn at being caught in sin and will need someone to help us out of it.
             Likewise, “meddling” and “ministry” have a fine line that we must work hard to discover so we can minister effectively to each other.
             The people who should help are those who are living by the Spirit.
             Living by the Spirit means we are not gratifying the desires of our own sinful nature and we have the fruit of the spirit in our own lives (Galatians 5:16).
             In other words, we cannot be engaged in the same sin and point it out in others while ignoring it in our own lives.
             We call that hypocrisy.
             Hypocrisy is never helpful in the church family.
             When we help someone with a sin issue, our goal should be to restore them to full fellowship with God and with the church.
             The Greek word for restore is katartizo. It is a medical term used for setting a broken bone and putting it right.
             The same word was also used in Matthew 4:21 for mending nets and in 2 Corinthians 13:11 about people mending their ways.
             The word is always used in the context of correcting something that is broken so that it can be used again.
             When we catch someone in a sin, our purpose should never be to serve as the judge, jury and prosecutor.
             Our purpose is to restore them so they can be used by the Lord again.
             We must do this gently.
             Having both a gentle attitude and gentle actions helps restoration seem possible for imperfect people.
             If we lack gentleness, we will probably just end up in an argument.
             We will never argue someone into restoration.
             As we seek to help others, we must watch our own hearts.
             No one is immune to temptation.
             Even if we are not tempted by the same things as the person we are seeking to help, we can be easily tempted by something.

Verse 2 - Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
             Sometimes people’s sins have piled up to the point that they will be unable to deal with it on their own.
             Other times people have been victimized by other people’s sins so many times that they are overwhelmed and are unable to deal with all the issues they are facing.
             When that happens, we must be willing to do more than just point out the problem.
             We must help carry their burden.
             The Greek word for burden is baros. It refers to an overloaded cart that has so much extra stuff on it that it is unable to move like it should.
             The Old Testament law was good at pointing out things not to do and we often need that in our lives.
             Many Christians excel at Old Testament living while missing the joy of serving others.

Verse 3 - If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.
             When we only point out problems in others’ lives but offer no help in overcoming them, it tends to come off as having a “holier than thou” attitude.
             People who have “holier than thou” attitudes often see everyone else’s faults but miss their own.
             Such people have fooled themselves into thinking they are pretty great.
             NEWS FLASH: no one else is fooled!
             We need to think a little less of ourselves a little more about others.
             We need to think a little less of ourselves and a WHOLE LOT more of Jesus.

Verse 4 - Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.
             Tearing others down may give us a temporary sense of pride, but it is a pride that is fleeting and will fail us.
             Instead of tearing others down, we should examine our own hearts by testing our actions.
             Testing our actions means examining our motives for why we took the actions we did.
             Sometimes we will not like what we see when we really look at our motives.
             When we do not like what we see in ourselves, we should begin to change things in our lives.
             We will feel a lot better about ourselves when we actually fix our issues than when we just tear others down to try to get them to our level.
             We must also remember that the real standard to compare ourselves to is Christ.
             That standard will keep us from getting too prideful!

Verse 5 - for each one should carry their own load.
             There are times in our lives when we must help other people carry their burdens.
             But we must not enable people to live sinful or unproductive lives.
             Each of us must we willing to do our part to make life work.
             The Greek word for load used in this verse is phortion. A Greek phortion is about what a man would carry in backpack, or the amount that one individual would be personally responsible for in any group effort.
             While we all need help from time to time, we should avoid becoming dependent on others.
             We should do our part.
             This applies to all areas of life.
             We should do our part in helping the church serve others.
             We should do our part in meeting our financial obligations.
             We should do our part in making our relationships healthy.
             We should be givers instead of takers.

Verse 6 - Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their teacher.
             One aspect of doing our part to create a healthy Christian community is to share with our teachers what God is doing in our lives.
             This would include formal “teachers,” as well as people who have taught us important concepts through their actions and attitudes.
             Their part is to teach, our part is to apply what we learned and then report back to them.
             It is very encouraging to a pastor, Sunday School teacher or ministry leader when someone shares with them how God has used what they taught to impact their life.
             Likewise, it is a great encouragement to hear how some thing we did impacted other people’s lives even if we did not realize that people noticed what we did.

Verse 7 - Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
             Since we reap what we sow, when we do our part to make things better, we reap rich rewards.
             Likewise, when we fail to do our part, our struggles increase.
             The Greek word for mocked literally means outwitted. Sometimes we think we can outwit God by not doing our part but still hoping to enjoy God’s blessings.
             But our relationship with God and with our fellow Christians is like a spiritual boomerang. Whatever we offer to others is what comes back to us.
             The good news is that even if we have sown some bad stuff in the past, we can start sowing good stuff now and eventually we will start reaping good results. Just remember that it may take a while to harvest all the junk first.

Verse 9 - Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
             What we often want in life is a quick return on our effort.
             Though we may have sown bad seeds for years, we want to show up to church, pray a couple of prayers, throw some money in the offering and expect instant blessings from God.
             But the law of reaping and sowing takes time.
             We may have to sow as many years of goodness as we did badness before we begin to see the results.
             Because this process takes time, we must not become weary in doing good.
             The Greek word for weary means “do not retreat in battle, do not give up the fight.” What an important lesson to learn!

Verse 10 - Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
             Because we must all do our part to make the family of God function well, and because we will sometimes have to help those who are overwhelmed and because we know that we will reap what we sow, then we should always be on the lookout for opportunities to sow some good seed.
             When the needs around us are too great, then we should FIRST help those who are in the Christian family.
             That does not mean we should not also help those outside the family, it simply means that when we cannot do everything that needs to be done, we help our brothers and sisters first.

             The church should be like a family.
             Everyone in the family should do their part to make things work and offer help to others in the family when needed.
             When family members do wrong, we must gently restore them to right actions without getting ourselves into similar situations.
Though it takes time to see results, we must hang in there and keep doing good.


  1. You sure have firsthand experience with this, especially this past week! I hope you are all feeling better now.

  2. Sorry we missed this one but glad you posted so at least I don't have to miss the point :). As always, great message: accountability is important but it's a short slide to condemnation...