Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
We remember as a matter of history that the chapter and verse divisions found in the Bible are not original to the text. They are generally helpful and normally come in appropriate locations. Yet reading the context of a passage does sometimes (often!) require crossing a chapter line. This happens in our Epistle passage for this week, Galatians 5:25-6:10. And this is a really good move.
The apostle warns us to walk in the Spirit and to avoid conceit, provoking and envying one another. This is immediately followed at the start of chapter 6 by an application. If we see someone caught in sin, those who are spiritual are to rescue him. The text is clear. Christians, very genuine Christians, become trapped in sin. It entangles us, like a net used in combat. The one trapped in the net may be a very fine fighter, but becomes entirely helpless when wrapped up. Likewise, the Christian who is entangled in sin can’t find a way out, at least not alone.
What does this idea of chapter 6 have to do with the last verse of chapter 5? There’s a connection in Paul’s mind. Very simply, when we become conceited, when we envy one another, when we decide to provoke others to anger and sin, we ourselves become entangled in sin. The very trap we try to set for someone else traps us.
There are two fairly obvious pieces of counsel to be had here. First, walk in the Spirit. This takes away our desire to sin against our neighbors. If we wonder whether we are walking in the Spirit, we need only to examine our hearts. A heart walking by the Spirit is a repentant one. Are we sorry for sin, and dependent on Jesus’ forgiveness? Then we are far less likely to exercise our old sinful man by conceit, provocation, and envy.
Second, when we find someone entrapped in sin, we don’t consider it a cause for rejoicing. It’s a reason for sorrow. We mobilize the rescue party and try to release our brother or sister who has become entangled. And we do it right away. The person wrapped up in the net may face death as a result.
The Christian lives a life of repentance and mercy. Thanks be to God that we have been shown mercy. Thanks be to God that we can also show mercy to others.
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