26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. 1Brothers 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. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load.
In his six years of life, Timmy has racked up hours, possibly days or weeks-worth of time-outs. It’s very possible that a little spot is worn into the second step where Timmy rests his rear end ‘to calm down’ and ‘refocus.’ Getting in trouble is no fun at all.
That’s why Timmy delights in those rare occasions when his brothers pay a mandatory visit to the second step. And when Timmy catches those older brothers in disobedience, he marches straight into the kitchen to let me know how bad his brothers have been. “Shouldn’t he get a time-out? A really loooong time-out?” Timmy asks, even begs. He basks in the righteousness of truth and justice: “Jack is SO bad for hitting Sam,” or “Isn’t Sam terrible for wrecking my Lego creation?” He is quick to let us know his brothers called him a name or grabbed something from him. He gets boosted up the ladder of righteousness, content to know that finally, there’s someone on the rung below him.
The NIV translates Galatians 6: 1 as:
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirits should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. (Gal 6: 1)”
TEMPTED IN WHAT WAY?
We’ve probably all heard sermons on the power of temptation and sin. When approaching a brother in the heat of sin, be careful the heat is not so hot that it will burn you too. While correcting another Christian who found a failsafe way to cheat on her taxes, don’t store away the tax trick as a secret weapon for yourself. Don’t commit the very act you just convinced your friend was a sin.
This may be a valid teaching, but there may be another, more subtle idea at work here. The Living Bible translates Galatians 6 as:
Dear brothers, if a Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help him back onto the right path, remembering that next time it might be one of you who is in the wrong. (Gal 6: 1)
You probably already picked up on the difference.
TEMPTED TO BE SELF-RIGHTEOUS
Since the end of Galatians talks much about comparison to others, Paul may be warning not so much about temptation to commit their sin, but, rather, is warning against comparison. Even in the context of rebuke, temptation emerges—self-righteousness. I am the corrector and you are the corrected. You’re the sinful one. I’m not.
The corrector needs some moral authority to approach the brother or sister in sin, but he cannot lord it over her. Instead, the corrector, as a fellow sinner, needs to approach the brother or sister in a spirit of humility--as one who has also sinned and been forgiven. The sin may be a personal responsibility and shortcoming, but the recovery is a group effort.
The Living Bible translation reminds us it’s only a matter of time before we sin again. And this time, maybe it’s you who are being rebuked. It’s probably not the same sin that we rebuked—we’re on our guard against that. But sin will come sooner or later, and we should welcome a rebuke.
SHARING EACH OTHER'S TROUBLES
Gal 6:2 goes on to say you should share each other’s troubles and problems. It’s not a competition or a chance to one-up a fellow believer, but a chance to humbly grow the kingdom- where God’s rule inches one step further and sin retreats by one step. It’s not a competition or battle with each other but a consolidated front against the true enemy.
And Paul finishes the thought in verse three, saying, “anyone who thinks he is too great to stoop to this… is really a nobody.” We’re all equals in the kingdom- fellow sinners in need of forgiveness. When we see that, we move beyond conceit and self-righteousness and live for the kingdom.
I’d love to see my kids encouraging each other to do what is right, rather than rejoicing in each other’s downfall and dragging the offender off to the kitchen where I hold court. Rather than seeing them smile at the second step sentence, I’d rather see them sad that their brother is in a difficult predicament. Let’s face it, we’ve all done things to deserve a little time on the second step. We’ve got to help each other out. When we do, we’re building God’s kingdom.
And sometimes, we see a glimpse of God’s kingdom right in our own homes. One day, while Sam was doing time on the time-out tread, Timmy took his blankie, and laid down on the floor at the bottom of the staircase…just to keep his brother company. Timmy knew what it was like to be in time-out. He could relate. So he sat with his brother until the kitchen timer rang. He was building God’s kingdom—one step at a time.