Liberty Has Responsibilities

26 Feb
from Google Images

from Google Images

Our liberty in Christ (Galatians 5:1) is not simply freedom to do as we please. Our liberty in Christ is true freedom only as we accept the responsibilities that the high cost of freedom brings us. All other so-called expressions of freedom end in slavery or addiction of one sort or another. Liberty in Christ is manifest in the fruit of the Spirit of Christ not a mystical experience. True spirituality is very practical and not so mystical as to be of no earthly good. Paul tells us that, if we follow after the Spirit of Christ, it will be evident in both our relationships and in the manner in which we use our wealth, whether that wealth is our time (life) or our material goods.

First of all we have responsibilities to ourselves in that we must not deceive ourselves (Galatians 6:3-5). If one becomes deceived, he or she is no longer free to fulfill the Law of Christ. To be at liberty in Christ concerns understanding rightly. The one who has been overcome has been deceived into thinking he could make himself worthy of the Lord by some means other than faith. The one who comes alongside to help can become deceived by believing he is better off than the one needing help. While this may be true practically, it is not true spiritually, because the only reason that one needs mending is because he deceived himself into believing he was stronger than his sin. In other words, he left off trusting in Jesus and began looking to his own strength. If the helper begins to believe he or she is better or stronger than the one needing help, he or she is making the same mistake by looking to his or her own strength rather than that of the Lord.

Paul tells us that we need to test our work (Galatians 6:4; cf. Romans 12:1-3). This is done as we offer ourselves to God in his service—trusting or walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). Then, allowing ourselves to be transformed and led by the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:18), we are able to test our work through its execution by soberly and gently living out the Spirit of Christ (Galatians 5:25). We are new creatures (Galatians 6:15; 2Corinthians 5:17) whose fruit (character) is the product of divine nature (Galatians 5:22-23; cf. 2Peter 1:4). Doing the will of God should not result in the fruit found in Galatians 5:19-21 (cf. Galatians 5:16). Our work in Christ should produce the results found in Galatians 5:22-23, both in ourselves and in the brother needing our help.

Obviously, in Galatians 6:5 Paul is not contradicting what he said in verse-2. One’s own burden points to one’s work or labor. Jesus said that if we wish to work the work of God it is our responsibility to trust in the One God sent—i.e. Jesus (John 6:28-29). Everyone has this responsibility and no one is able to have faith for another person. When a brother is overcome in a fault, he has left off carrying the light burden of trusting in the finished work of Christ and has taken up that which only Christ can do. The burden described in Galatians 6:5 has to do with the backpack each soldier had to carry. In the Gospel it has to do with the yoke the Lord says he has given us, because we had been heavily laden and in need of rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

We all have the responsibility of ministering our worldly goods to those who have helped us in our spiritual walk (Galatians 6:6; Romans 15:26-27; 1Corinthians 9:7, 11; Philippians 4:14-20). Paul took offerings of the gentiles to aid the poor Jews (those who have labored to preserve the word of God that the gentiles now believed); and more specifically Paul refers to those who labor in the word of God among us for our benefit—like our pastors.

The reward for our labor will be according to our generosity, not in amount but in terms of what it cost us (Galatians 6:7). Moreover, God cannot be mocked concerning our hearts. If what we do in his service is in hope of a worldly reward, that is what we can expect, but if we sow to the Spirit we shall receive a spiritual harvest, concerning which Paul claims we are unable to even imagine the generosity of God (1Corinthians 2:9) in terms of what God will do for us at the judgment.

Paul isn’t speaking of our salvation here, for salvation is a gift (Romans 6:23). Rather he is speaking of reward for our labor in Christ, but we need to beware of becoming tired of doing the good and stopping altogether, because such an attitude will prevent us from receiving a full reward (Galatians 6:9). If we are able to detect such weariness in others, especially our spiritual leaders, we need to remember them both in prayer and in practical ways to encourage them, because their spiritual labor is a daily matter, while ours is as opportunity presents itself (Galatians 6:10).

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Posted by on February 26, 2016 in Galatians


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