“If you could describe the ideal Christian church, what would it look like?”
- Galatians 6:1-10 – Forgiveness, help, and support should be manifest among God’s followers.
- 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 – Cases of defiant sin must be dealt with in the church and not overlooked.
- John 13:34-35 – Love manifest between believers is a sign of God’s true followers.
Key Points and Questions:
1. Mistakes Happen: Although God calls us to a life of holiness, the fact is that people make mistakes. It should be no surprise therefore that churches are messy places. What is suppose to make the church different from other institutions in the world is not that we are faultless, but that we extend forgiveness and restoration to those who make mistakes. In Galatians 6:1-2, Paul is not dealing with a case of defiant sin. He gives instructions on how to deal with that kind of situation elsewhere (see 1 Cor 5:1-5). The situation Paul discusses here involves mistakes people make, acknowledge, and want to put behind them. We are not to condemn, punish, or disfellowship such people. We should treat them gently and seek their spiritual restoration.
A. Why do you think Paul had to instruct the believers in Galatia on how to deal with people who do not always live up to the standards God has for them?
B. What does restoration mean? Does it imply there are no consequences for a believer’s wrong behavior even if he or she repents genuinely?
2. Beware of Temptation: Except for God’s restraining grace, humans are capable of practically anything, given the right circumstances. The words, “I would never do that,” betrays a lack of awareness to the depth of selfishness that dwells within the human heart. Paul’s counsel to beware of temptation is no trivial piece of advice, nor is it limited to only a few kinds of people. We are all called to keep an eye on ourselves, lest we find ourselves wandering astray spiritually.
A. What steps are you taking in your spiritual life to avoid falling into temptation?
B. Paul says Christians should evaluate their own actions (1 Tim 4:16). Is there a right and wrong way to do that? What criteria should be used? (Gal. 6:4; 2 Cor. 13:5).
3. Burden Bearing: Christians are not only called to feel sympathy for others, but we are also called to help others to bear their burdens.
A. What are some ways that we can help shoulder the burdens of others?
B. Paul’s comments on doing good to others in Galatians 6:9-10 seem redundant. Why do you think Paul is so persistent in reminding believers of their responsibility to others?