1 “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2 [NASB]
When one reads these two verses, we are apt to get caught up in the words “caught in trespass.” Yet the focal point of the verses is the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? Christ said we are to love the LORD God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as our self (Matthew 22:36-40). So the law of Christ is love.
God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins because of His love for us. He did not say some people are worthy to receive His love and some not. We are all unworthy to receive His love, but because His love is magnanimous, He loves everyone no matter what the person did. That is love.
Jesus said a man showed no greater love than laying down his life for his friend (John 15:13). Being a human made in the image of God means we are created to be in relationship with God and other people. Relationships require love and forbearance. With this attitude then, Paul told the Galatians to approach one of their Christian brethren who is caught in trespass.
Paul told the spiritual brethren – those who belong to the Holy Spirit and are filled with Him – of Galatia to approach their Christian brethren caught in trespass (deviation from truth and uprightness be it sin or misdeed) to restore that lapsed brother or sister in gentleness. Notice the person who approached the trespassing believer had to be filled and led by the Spirit, not with haughtiness at being better than the other. The confronting Spirit-filled person had to do it with gentleness, which comes from the Spirit and does not contain pride or arrogance, but meekness. This person knows it could be he or she who other people caught in sin and so goes to the person in that humility and with the love of God through the Holy Spirit. Notice the confronting person does not address the trespasser as if he or she is better than him or her, but as a loved and forgiven one of God. This thought tends to tame the sinful attitude of a person. Paul told the Galatian Christians not to think too highly of themselves. He said, “Let each one look to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”
In the second verse, Paul added to this thought. He told the Christian to bear the others’ burden – weight and trouble – and, thus, fulfill the law of Christ. This verse does not stand alone, but goes in conjunction with the first verse. The brother who approaches the trespasser must have the mind of Christ – humility, gentleness, and love – and must be willing to help the brother or sister in Christ. It is one thing to talk to a person and tell them where they are going wrong. Still better is it to walk with the person, actively being a part of the person’s life, helping him or her with his or her weight and troubles that led him or her to trespass. James spoke about this when he said in James 2:17-18, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
Paul did not intend the Galatian Christian to hunt for sinners and bring them before people to shame them. He meant for them to approach them with love and humility as well as to walk with them helping to carry the burden so the person would be less tempted to sin. It is easy to point our fingers at someone and speak of his or her sin. We must get to the point where we take the burdens of other people on our shoulders and help them walk through life. Jesus told us He would help carry our yoke. We should be willing to do that. Speak to the person. Understand what is happening in his or her life. Walk with the person so they are not overwhelmed and give in to sin. That is what the law of Christ truly is – loving and bearing one another’s burdens.
Have this mind, which is in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:2-5). How now will you approach people? This is a real challenge for each of us every day. What do you choose to do?