In Paul's day the church was, in William Barclay's words, "a really sharing institution." People who learned the gospel from a teacher or evangelist shared their possessions with the teacher. In fact, the church members provided much of the evangelists' means of survival.
Today pastors still depend upon their congregations to give offerings so they can have salaries. But money isn't all that pastors need from us. They need prayer and moral support from us. They also need people who will offer friendship and accountability.
"All good things" includes the fruit of the Spirit. Our pastors and teachers need us to share the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that are the results of our growing relationships with Jesus.
Paul's warning against deception at the close of Galatians seems significant. He has devoted this letter to warning the Galatians against embracing legalism. The fact that he warns them about deception underscores that the Old Covenant laws can be very compelling. They are compelling because they outline the behaviors of a godly life. How can those laws be a problem when they guide us to good lives?
Law is deceptive because it appears to point us to holiness when in reality it entraps us in works. The truth is that Jesus has redeemed us already, and the Holy Spirit in us is gradually and consistently changing us, changing our tastes and impulses and perceptions so that we function in grace and reality instead of compulsion and deception. Law deceives us into believing we can control our sanctification. It makes us lose sight of the finished work of Christ and instead be lulled into thinking that making good decisions and doing righteous acts will ensure we are spiritual.
Another deception against which Paul is warning is that of not taking seriously our calling to live in the Spirit. If we profess Christ but live without integrity, we mock the One who saved us.
Satan will use whatever method works to deceive us. It may be legalism; it may be unconcern for representing the One whose name we bear. Either way, the deception leads us to please our "sinful nature."
In verse 9 Paul admonishes the Galatians not to "become weary in doing good." Doing good can be motivated by the Spirit or by the sinful nature. Even when motivated by the Spirit, loving people for God can become tedious, especially when those we are loving are difficult or resistant.
"Doing good," or being available for God to love people through you, requires us to live by faith. It teaches us humility, and it takes us right into the hardness and messiness of life. Doing good can mean loving an unbelieving spouse, or being consistent and full of grace with a difficult boss or client, or loving and setting limits on a difficult child, or living with pain or chronic illness and still being open to grace, or enduring ostracism or rejection because of the gospel and still responding with grace, or responding to the physical and emotional needs of those around us.
Paul says we are to "do good to all people." But he ends this talk of doing good by saying, "especially [do good] to the family of believers."
In I Timothy 5:8 Paul says that if anyone does not provide for his relatives and immediate family he denies his faith and is worse than an unbeliever. His admonitions to do good to the family of believers underscores that in Christ we are a family. We are a body; we share with each other at a level we don't share with unbelievers. We carry each others' burdens; we nurture each others' growth; we see in each other the reflection of Jesus. We see in each other a part of Jesus' body. We see in each other-Family.
As family members of God, we owe each other respect, care, help, prayer, support, and assistance as needed. And, as family members, we also owe each other gratitude, grace, and humility.
God has given us the concept of family so we are better able to understand his love and intimacy with us. He wants to love us through each other, and he gives us his Spirit so we can minister to each other for him with his mind and heart.
As we grow in the Spirit we become more and better able to respond to each other. As we internalize the love of Jesus, we become able to give that love to each other. We become Jesus' mind, heart, and hands to each other.
We learn to love each other for him.
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