Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
I. In considering the duty of restoring the lost and criminal, let us note, first, the spirit in which it is to be performed: "Restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Surely this is the very opposite to the spirit of the world. That spirit refuses to consider the possibility of ourselves being tempted, parades a challenge in the face of the world to question our own purity and inviolability, and declares that we are determined never to admit the hypothesis of our becoming like the sinful. We have to put on a spirit directly contrary to that which we find around us in the world, to sit at the feet of a far different Teacher, and learn of Him. Our blessed Lord spent His life and shed His blood in devising means whereby His lost ones might be recovered to Him; and every follower of His is exhorted not to look only on his own things, but also on the things of others.
II. There was one law in which our blessed Lord summed up His social and practical precepts, one which peculiarly belongs to Him: "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do unto them." In by far the greater number of cases of discharged prisoners it is to be feared that evil influence prevails, and they relapse into crime; but there is a remnant in whom there is a desire, more or less earnest, to regain as much as may be of what has been lost. The whole world is against them, but we should open our doors to them, and encourage them. We should look on the fallen as our brethren, bearing their burdens, instead of disclaiming them and letting them sink under their weight, and so fulfilling the law of Christ.
H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. vii., p. 195.
References: Galatians 6:1.—Homilist, 3rd series, vol. i., p. 340; Christian World Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 143; E. Johnson, Ibid., vol. xiv., p. 262; H. W. Beecher, Ibid., vol. xviii., p. 22. Galatians 6:1, Galatians 6:2.—Ibid.., vol. xxv., p. 378; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 80. Galatians 6:1-5.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ill., p. 217.
Galatians 6:2I. We must take this text into the sphere of realism; that is, we must not touch trouble sentimentally. There are some people in the world who are curious about a trouble. Be very careful with these people. Many a man has been sorry afterwards that he has admitted the curious into the privacy of his thoughts. Bear ye one another's burdens, and you will know how heavy are the things which you touch.
II. We must do this with great tact and delicacy of feeling. There is a pride that is honourable and beautiful. Men dislike patronage, and to patronise is a subtle fault, a common fault. Very delicate must be our relation to one in trouble, in order that we may reverence the soul of our brother, and never lower his honour while we are helping his need.
III. We must do this as the law of life. It is not to be a solitary action, however beautiful, because separate actions do not make good men. The beauty of the Christian spirit is this: that we have no escape from its common constancy; there is nothing occasional in it.
IV. We must look at this great teaching along the line of true social economy. Let your sympathy with the burdened begin where there is sorrow, shame, and grief; then let your pity go, and then you will find that the Bible, instead of being an empty social economy, is the only true social economy in the world.
V. We must do all this with a tender sense of brotherhood. In sympathy with and bearing one another's burdens, we realise the great fact that we shall have burdens to bear ourselves. Everything is to be in the spirit of mutuality.
W. M. Statham, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxv., p. 58.
The way of self-isolation, in other words of selfishness, may present itself as the more excellent way to some; it may seem the most prudent course: and yet we act not less blindly than guiltily when we choose it.
I. This same selfishness, this same isolation of ourselves, which shuts us up against the sorrows of others, shuts us up also against their joys. If the one fountain is sealed, so will also be the other. He who will not weep with them that weep, neither shall he rejoice with them that rejoice; and thus there are sealed from him the sources of some of the purest and truest delights which the heart of man can entertain, namely, the pleasure which we derive from the happiness of others. But then, further, it is a course as blind as it is sinful, because all experience proves that the man who lays his account to live an easy, pleasurable life by knowing nothing, by refusing to know anything, of the cares, troubles, and distresses of others, is never able to carry out this scheme of his to a successful end. In strange ways he is sure to be baffled and defeated in this his guilty dream of a life lived like that of the Epicurean gods, the life of one looking down as from a superior height upon a vast weltering world of labour and sorrow and pain beneath him. "Care finds the careless out." He who resolves not to bear any part of the burdens of his fellows resolves not to fulfil the law of Christ.
II. Bear ye the burden of one another's sins. In one sense Christ only can do this. What must we do, if we would bear this burden for another? We must not soon be provoked; we must be patient towards all men, accepting that which their sin may lay upon us as part of that burden which sinners dwelling among sinners must expect to bear. So, too, we bear the burden of other men's sins when we take trouble, endure toil and pain and loss, in seeking their restoration, when, at however remote a distance from our Lord, we too follow them into the wilderness, that so, it may be, we may find, and having found, may bring them home again.
R. C. Trench, Sermons in Ireland, p. 77.
I. Poverty is a burden which we may lighten. It cannot be reasonably questioned that poverty is a great disadvantage and constitutes a great pressure on the poor. It prevents the acquisition of knowledge; it quenches the nobler strivings; it wears the body with toil, withholds the sustenance of strength; it makes life a drudgery. When very deep it is twin sister to famine, and behind them both are the darker forms of crime. "Lest I be poor and steal," is the argument by which the wise man's prayer, "Give me not poverty," is sustained. No thoughtful loving man can say that that is a state in which men ought to be content or in which we ought to be content to see them. It is a great burden, and we are to bear it with them and for them.
II. Infirmity is a burden. The list of human infirmities is a very long one; the category of faults does not soon come to an end. Now, taking the more evident among them, how are we to deal with them? This passage tells us clearly. Whenever restoration is possible we are to restore in the spirit of meekness. If a man shall fall in any measure from integrity, or from charity, or from truthfulness of speech, or from purity of behaviour, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness. Bear his burden until you bear it away, and it is his burden no longer. Go to him on the side of his infirmity, not to reproach and curse, but to heal and help.
III. The burden of trouble. All that we understand by trouble may be borne more or less by one for another. If every Christian man would put himself, according to the measure of his ability, in sympathy with all the trouble of his friends, what a lightening of that trouble there would be, what a dropping away of burdens, and what a glory cast around the burdens that remain! It would be as if the Saviour were personally present in ten thousand homes. There is, perhaps, nothing in which we are more deficient than in due readiness and fulness of Christian sympathy.
A. Raleigh, Quiet Resting Places, p. 315.
References: Galatians 6:2.—F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 253; C. Kingsley, Village Sermons, p. 149; Homilist, 3rd series, vol. i., p. 343; T. M. Herbert, Sketches of Sermons, p. 86; W. J. Knox-Little, Characteristics of Christian Life, p. 140; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. i., p. 283; T. L. Cuyler, Ibid., vol. xx., p. 33; Bishop Temple, Ibid., vol. xxxv., p. 264; E. M. Goulburn, Occasional Sermons, p. 18.
Galatians 6:2, Galatians 6:5I. St. Paul combines in this passage the two great ideas on which all previous morality had been based: the one self-preservation, self-development, that is to say, that out of which the sense of responsibility grows; the other selfforgetfulness, that is to say, that out of which all effort for other people grows. It combines them in a complete harmony. "Bear ye one another's burdens," is the rule of selfforgetfulness; "Every man should bear his own burden," is the simple rule of self-preservation. And because the harmony between these two statements is so hard to preserve, because in the agony that is caused by self-reflection we are so liable to be carried away by the one to the exclusion of the other, it may be well to consider this apparent paradox.
If. This apparent diversity between "Bear ye one another's burdens" and "Let every man bear his own burden" is always meeting us and always challenging us. It looks at us under the name of individualism or humanism in every modern philosophical treatise that we read, or it comes to us in some of the smallest personal questions of our daily life. The solution of the problem was the despair of the old world before Christianity came. Greek philosophy, from beginning to end, is rampant individualism. The very antithesis to this is the Buddhist system. On the face of it, Buddhism appears to be the most refined form of what is called humanism. But about the theoretical self-abandonment of Buddhism there is this fatal defect: that directly it becomes practical it is found to aim at mere self-crushing, at what is neither more nor less than suicide. Christ's religion escapes mere Buddhist universalism. Go out, says St. Paul, from yourselves to help others; bear their burdens, restore them by the magic touch of fellowship in the spirit of meekness. Fling your soul away into the struggles and sorrows of others, and so fulfil the law of Him who, in the highest sense, bare their sorrows. The more sympathetic you become, the more will self-reflection grow; the more will you find the truth of the great paradox that those who lose their life for Christ's sake even now will find it.
Prebendary Eyton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxix., p. 49.
References: Galatians 6:2-5.—S. Pearson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 154; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 560; W. Williamson, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. v., p. 330. Galatians 6:4.—Homilist, 3rd series, vol. vi., p. 322.
Galatians 6:5(with Psalm 55:22)
The Apostle reminds us in this verse that there are some burdens which cannot be shared, which each must bear for himself alone.
I. The burden of personality can be borne only by the man himself. That is "his own burden." Of course this truth is surrounded and connected with other truths which limit and qualify it, and put it into harmonious relationship with God and man. Each individual is open to manifold influence, may be impressed, drawn, turned, melted, inflamed, according to the powers that play on him; but he is himself in all. No part of his being is drawn away from him, however sensibly and powerfully its relations may be affected. He receives no essential part of the being of others into his own. He abides in the eye of God a separate, complete, individual soul for ever. "Every man shall bear his own burden."
II. The burden of responsibility is borne always by the individual man. The responsibility arises of necessity out of the personality, because the personality holds in it the elements of moral life. Man is moral, and therefore responsible. We live in the mass, but we are judged one by one. We act and interact, give and take, all day long and our whole life through; but each, at every moment, stands responsibly before God: and to each God says, as He did to Daniel, "Thou shalt stand in thy lot at the end of the days."
III. Every man shall bear his own burden of guilt. It is his own burden, and if he does not avail himself of the means of deliverance righteously and graciously provided, it will be his burden for evermore.
IV. Immortality is a man's own burden. Before any soul a man might stand and say, "O king, live for ever," crowned and robed amid the glories of the eternal kingdom or discrowned and in disgrace, a wreck of life, yet living on, for every man shall bear his own burden of immortality for ever. Christ, the Son of God, became incarnate that He might stand by our side, our almighty, loving Helper; and now we can lean on Him, "the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother," and bear all our burdens and yet walk with elastic step, and take His yoke upon us, too, and find it to be easy, His burden, and prove it light.
A. Raleigh, Quiet Resting Places, p. 331.
Galatians 6:5(with Galatians 6:2; Psalm 55:22)
I. "Every man shall bear his own burden." Some burdens are inseparably attached to us; deliverance from them is as impossible as life would be without air and exercise and cold water. We must bear them; there is no help for it. Between the wicket-gate and the gate of glory John Bunyan put the hill of difficulty. God puts between the two gates, for you and me, many difficulties. Difficulties strengthen; they compact a man's faith; they sinew his soul; they make him Christlike. This death-grapple sometimes with difficulty gives us force, and the loads which God lays upon us teach us lessons to be learned in no other school. The hardest lesson for every one of us to learn is this: to let God have His own way and trust Him in the dark.
II. "Bear ye one another's burdens." We have seen how the carrying of our own load gives us strength. There are other loads that we could help our fellow-creatures to carry, and that service is to teach us that beautiful grace sympathy. Happily we have here the reason for it: "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." That law is love. Christ is love. We must carry His law into practice every day if we would prove that, while we profess and call ourselves Christians, we are worthy of the title.
III. "Cast thy burden on the Lord." God does not release you from the performance of duty, but He will sustain you in doing it. The load shall not crush you; nay, rather it shall sinew your graces, and send you forth more thoroughly furnished for God's work here and glory hereafter. Trust means that when we take up the burden we lean on the Burden-bearer, though unseen, assured that He shall never fail in His promise, "My grace shall be sufficient for you."
T. L. Cuyler, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xx., p. 33.
Reference: Galatians 6:5.—J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 8th series, p. 209.
Galatians 6:7Christian Diligence.
I. The Christian sows to the Spirit, not to the flesh. Let us try to give a plain, practical interpretation to these words. The sowing being interpreted to mean the thoughts, words, and acts of this present life, the Christian thinks, speaks, and acts with reference to the Spirit; to his higher, his Divine, part; to that part of him which, being dwelt in by God's Holy Spirit, aims at God's glory, loves Him, serves Him, converges to Him in its desires and motions. Herein he altogether differs from the unchristian man, who sows to the flesh, consults in his thoughts, words, and acts, the desires of the body and the passing interests of the world. Now how does the Christian sow? In discouragement, in difficulty, with effort and with endurance, against nature and against temptation. His seedtime is a time of labour, not of repose; of self-denial, not of ease; of hope, not of enjoyment. But these seeds thus planted are, by the power of the same creative Spirit, in the ground vivified, and expanded, and made to yield a thousandfold, yea to bear unceasing fruit to all eternity.
II. If all our life be the seedtime of eternity, youth is, in a narrower sense, especially the seedtime of life, and thus of eternity too. Educate for God, in the wide sense which I would always give to those words; teach God's word, and God's works, and God's ways; and unfold God's powers which are latent in the living subjects of your teaching. Educate the young for God; teach them that their religious life is all their life, that thousands of thoughts and words and acts belong to God upon which His name is not ordinarily inscribed; that not only in the high culture of their spirits, but in the tillage of the underlying fields of the mind, of the judgment, the understanding, the imagination, the fancy, and in temperance, soberness, and chastity of the still humbler region of the body, they must be sowing to life everlasting.
H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. v., p. 122.
Sin and its Punishment.
I. Against all delusions about sin, St. Paul utters the solemn words of the text. The word for "mocked" implies the most unseemly and insulting gesture; and God is mocked when we pretend to be His while we cut our being in twain and give the better half to Satan, when we draw nigh unto Him with our lips while our hearts are far from Him, when we are externally scrupulous and internally filled with willing corruption. Before any of us fancy that, though fighting, we are always being defeated by sin, let us ask ourselves whether it really is the one dear, absorbing wish of our souls to stand, not approved to man, but approved to God, and to be pure with God and His own pure souls. Let us not be deceived on the very threshold about this matter, for the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.
II. Once again, test your sincerity by the manner in which you control or resist the beginning of all sin which is in evil thoughts. Do you suffer your thoughts to tamper with evil and to dally with wrong-doing? If so, you are not sincere. If you willingly sin in thought, if you are base and guilty there, then be sure that sooner or later the guilt that is imprisoned will break out into the outlets of word and deed.
III. To promise a certain ultimate victory if you be sincere in the struggle against sin is not the same thing as saying that you will never fall. By reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright; but if we be true fighters, when we fall we shall rise again: we shall not lie in the mire, but instantly, shamed into greater watchfulness, we shall make sure of the next victory, and each victory will lead to others until our enemies are all utterly routed.
F. W. Farrar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiii., p. 58.
I. It is not without a purpose that the solemn truth is so often repeated in God's word that we shall reap in the next world according as we have sown in this one. The foolish mortal who lives to self to self must die. God is not, cannot be, mocked. No one need expect, or even hope, to sow one thing and reap another. Those who recklessly sow to the flesh must reap their harvest: blighted fortune; shattered health; disappointed hopes and soured tempers; infamy and shame. God leaves us free to sow what sort of seed we will, and no one can blame the Almighty that, having chosen our own course, we reap our own harvest. The individual who indulges in one known sin is planting a seed, which will be sure to spring up and grow, and, perhaps, prepare the way for a wider departure from duty. A second and third temptation will prove more irresistible and dangerous than the first.
II. There is an amiable class of people who, without being addicted to any particular vice, are merely distinguished for the skill and success with which they devote themselves to worldly things. They have no doubt that death may soon come and summon them away, but, in spite of his fact, they are sowing no seed for a future and an invisible harvest. The gratification of having succeeded in their cherished plans, the pleasant assurance that the bodily necessities of the time of sickness and old age are provided for, and the admiration of those who have observed the tokens of their worldly prosperity—these are their harvest. Is it enough?
J. N. Norton, Golden Truths, p. 425.
Galatians 6:7I. There is none to whom so much mockery is offered as God. Men walk on His earth and deny His existence. Others acknowledge His existence, but by their lives defy His power. Men come to His house of prayer, and there, amidst the rising accents of supplication and praise and the descending message of His word, they think of their farm and their merchandise, or follow in fancy their worldly desires. They go thence, and not a word of that which they have asked is remembered with a view to its answer. And even to the spiritual ordinance of the body and blood of Christ do not men not unfrequently bring unclean hands and an unhallowed heart, and even when the signs of forgiveness and immortality are being administered to them are they not living in unrepented sin and the bondage of corruption? But with all this God is not mocked. His Divine majesty dwells in light unapproachable, far above any stain of pollution or danger of insult from us, the creatures of His almighty will. It is not God, it is our souls, that we mock when we thus tamper with their best and dearest interests. It is ourselves whom we expose to shame and everlasting contempt.
II. How this is the case, the second fact announced by the Apostle may explain to us: "God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." The present life is our seedtime. Our hearts and consciences are the field to be sown. By the seed are meant those living principles, whether good or ill, which sink down below the level of the surface, not what men profess, but what men follow. Those seeds spring up and bring forth fruit of one kind or other; that is, they become put into practice in men's lives by the words of their tongues and the works of their hands. The great harvest is the end of the world, when every man's principles shall be judged by every man's works, the seed by the fruit which it shall have brought forth. What he has sown, not what he has professed to sow, will then be seen. The great harvest day shall declare what each man's principles have been in the deep chambers of his heart, and according to that declaration shall his eternal lot be, for happiness or for misery.
H. Alford, Sermons, p. 113.
References: Galatians 6:7.—T. J. Crawford, The Preaching of the Cross, p. 98; Homilist, 2nd series, vol. i., p. 456; Christian World Pulpit, vol. xx., p. 253; T. Teignmouth Shore, The Life of the World to Come, p. 1; J. Vaughan, Children's Sermons, 1875, p. 266; Outline Sermons to Children, p. 241.
Galatians 6:7-8Deceived Sowers to the Flesh.
I. The first thing which strikes us in the text is the solemnity of the Apostle's warning. He seems to intimate that such is the audacious wickedness of the human heart that it has within it so many latent mazes of iniquity that men might be self-deceived either as to their apprehensions of that which was right before God, or as to their own actual condition in His sight; and he tells them that God is not mocked by this pretended service, that to Him all hearts are open, and that in impartial and discriminating arbitration He will render to every man according to his deeds. If there is but a possibility of this, it behoves us to take earnest warning.
II. Consider the import of the Apostle's statement, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," etc. He who would gather the wheat into the garner must scatter the wheat seed in the furrow. Barley and rye will come each from its own seed, and tares, if an enemy stealthily scatter them while the husbandman and his fellows slumber. It is manifest, then, that the great principle which the Apostle would impress upon us is that we have largely the making or the marring of our own future; that in the thoughts we harbour, and in the words we speak, and in the silent deeds which, beaded on time's string, are told by some recording angel as the story of our life from year to year, we shape our character, and therefore our destiny for ever. They who sow for this world reap in this world, and may outlive their own harvests; they who sow to the Spirit seek for abiding issues, and their harvest has not yet come. There are three special kinds of sowers to the flesh whom the Apostle seems to have had in mind: the proud; the covetous; the ungodly. They are all spiritual sins—sins of which human law takes no cognisance, and to which codes of earthly jurisprudence affix no scathing penalty. On this very account, however, they are fraught with immeasurably greater danger. There is the greater need that these spiritual sins should be disclosed in all their enormity and shown in their exceeding sinfulness and in their disastrous wages, in order that men may be left without excuse, if they persist wilfully in believing a lie.
W. M. Punshon, Sermons, p. 253.
I. Note the great law expressed in the text, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." We know that in natural things a man cannot sow wheat and get rye; that he cannot take chaff and cast it over the ground, or drill it in, and expect a crop from that which is not seed at all. Much less, if he were to cast abroad the seeds of what was pernicious and poisonous, if he were to sow thistles and briers and thorns, might he expect that the summer fields would be covered with the promise of a rich harvest with which his barns would be filled. So in the higher sphere sowing to the flesh will bring corruption in the loss of reputation, character, standing, all! And in a higher sphere still we may reap corruption in the extinction of faith, love, Divine hope, and communion with God, by separation from Him leading to complete incapacity and loss of power for this communion of the soul with its Maker, and that is corruption in its darkest and worst sense.
II. "He that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." The man will best govern the animal when God governs the man, when the man sows to the Spirit in the sense of sowing to the Divine impulse, suggesting, restraining, preventing grace, it may be, operating upon his nature. Do not let us be weary in welldoing. There is often a good while between the seedtime and the harvest, and there may be a good while between the seedtime and the harvest in a man's doing that which is right; but go on: be not weary; in due season you shall reap, if you faint not. The law is as operative and influential on the one side as on the other, in relation to the good as well as to the evil. Therefore, however you may sometimes feel depressed by long and weary waiting for some result, never let that tempt you to falter or to put forth your hand to some iniquity. Be upright, and true, and loyal to Christ and to God, and if the blessing tarry, wait for it; it will come all in due time. It is a good thing for a man both to hope and quietly to wait for the blessings of God.
T. Binney, Penny Pulpit, New Series, Nos. 487, 488.
I. The doctrine of eternal punishment ought to be denied, because of its evil fruits. A good tree does not bring forth corrupt fruit, and we owe to this doctrine all the slaughter and cruelty done by alternately triumphant sects in the name of God. So dreadful were its deeds that a door of escape was provided from its full horror by the Church of a former time. The doctrine of purgatory and of prayers for the dead was the reaction from its terrors, and it saved religion. Unrelieved by this merciful interposition, eternal punishment would have slain the world.
II. In denying the eternity of hell, do we in truth destroy the doctrine of retribution? Not at all; we establish it, and are enabled to assert it on clear and reasonable grounds. First, we can believe in it. The heart and the conscience alike refuse to believe in everlasting punishment. The imagination cannot conceive it; the reason denies its justice. But the retribution taught by the opposite doctrine—that God's punishment is remedial, not final; that it is exacted, but that it ends when it has done its work—is conceivable, is allowed by the heart, for its root is love; is agreed to by the conscience, for it is felt to be just; is accepted of the reason, for it is based on law. In our belief, the ground of retribution is this: that God cannot rest till He has wrought evil out of all spirits, and that this work of His is chiefly done by causing us to suffer the natural consequence of sin. The very root, then, of our belief in the non-eternity of punishment involves an awful idea of punishment. For on this ground God will not cease to be a consuming fire to a man till He has destroyed all his evil. Nor can He cease. The imperative in His nature binds Him to root out evil, and God does His duty by us. Does this view destroy, and not rather assert, retribution?
III. We can all understand that. Introduce evil into your life, and you are introducing punishment. God will not rest till He has consumed it. Sow to the flesh, and you shall of the flesh reap corruption; you shall eat the fruits of your own devices, and find in them your hell. And God will take care that you do. He will not spare a single pang, if only He can bring us to His arms at last. Punishment here and in the world to come is no dream, but a dread reality; but it is strictly and justly given, and it comes to a close. One cry of longing repentance changes its quality, one bitter sorrow for wrong, one quick conviction that God is love and wishes our perfection. But to produce that repentance, and till it is produced, God's painful work on our evil is done and will be done. There is but one truth which can enable us to fight against wrong, and to conquer in the end and give us power, faith, and hope in face of all awful revelations. It is the unconquerable goodness of God, the conviction, deep-rooted as the mountains, of His infinite love and justice, the knowledge that the world is redeemed, the victory over evil won, and that, though the work is slow, not one soul shall be lost for ever. For He shall reign till He hath subdued all things to Himself in the willingness of happy obedience and the joy of creative love.
S. A. Brooke, The Unity of God and Man, p. 45.
References: Galatians 6:7, Galatians 6:8.—E. Cooper, Practical Sermons, vol. i., p. 96; G. Bladon, Church of England Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 185; T. Stringer, Ibid., p. 293; Homilist, 2nd series, vol. i., p. 575; Ibid., 3rd series, vol. iv., p. 173; S. Pearson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 172; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 189. Galatians 6:7-9.—E. Johnson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxviii., p. 155.
Galatians 6:8Sowing to the Spirit.
I. The natural man has no desire for immortality. This is the desire which is always assumed in the New Testament as lying at the root of all spiritual life, of all growth in holiness. If a man is to sow to the Spirit, he must first believe in spirit; he must believe that he is a spirit, that he is not a mere part of this world, to vanish away and perish like the herb of the field when his day here is over. But the natural man has not this first great spiritual desire. The natural man is without the proper desire for immortality; the spiritual man, as is ever conspicuously put before us in Scripture, has this desire strong in him, and it is the beginning and the foundation of the religious life which he leads here.
II. But this is the second point that we come to, viz., the sowing to immortality, the laying up in store a good foundation against the time to come, that we may attain eternal life. Those who are convinced of the truth of, and who earnestly desire to reap, this everlasting life, must sow to everlasting life. As soon as the soul is really seized with the desire for everlasting life, the sort of actions which it takes interest in, and which attract it, and which it wants to do for the sake of its own individual prospects and hope of gaining this eternal life, are not any actions connected with profit or greatness in this world, but simply good actions. It is the strong wish to do righteousness, to do duties to God and man, which accompanies the strong desire for immortal life. Why? Because we know that it is goodness alone which is the enduring and immortal thing in man, and that by it alone can we fasten ourselves on to eternity and "lay hold on eternal life."
J. B. Mozley, Sermons Parochial and Occasional, p. 203.
Galatians 6:9Unweariedness in Well-doing.
Let us not be weary in welldoing in consequence of—
I. The rivalry of other workers. (1) Note the undying activity of the world. There is no mercy for the half-hearted man; he is quickly jostled off the racecourse or crushed to pieces upon it. When a worker has become weary, and can no longer hurry forward or labour at his calling, the world perhaps pauses a moment to push him out of its way, chuckles at the vacant space or released capital, closes over the circle that formed for a moment around him, and hurries on its eager race. (2) If we turn from the unwearying work of the busy world to contemplate the great power of evil, if we try to realise its presence, to separate it in thought from the world which it defiles and seeks to ruin, we are appalled by its ceaseless efforts to accomplish its deadly purpose. Whatever power can afford to rest, the power of evil never grows weary. (3) The energies of goodness never rest nor take their ease. On all hands the numerous and combining ranks of the children of light are taking on them the whole armour of God and going forth to do battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil.
II. The mighty name of Christian combines many of the strongest arguments to unwearying service. (1) The Christian owes his own salvation to unwearied love and infinite sacrifice. (2) Christians are the pledged disciples of the great Worker in this field of holy exertion. (3) Christ Himself lives and works within the Christian by the power of His Spirit.
III. Further incentives to perseverance may be found in the peculiar and insidious character of the temptations to which welldoing is exposed. (1) The man who is resolved to ruin himself has the evil propensities of his fallen nature to help him. On the other hand, welldoing exacts a perpetual conflict with the evil tendencies of our nature. (2) Another of the hindrances to which welldoing of this kind is exposed is the tendency of our machinery to wear out and our own disposition not unfrequently to hurry it off the field. (3) There is weariness in welldoing from the very number of methods by which it may be pursued.
IV. Consider the reason which the Apostle urges for our observance of this injunction. It rests on the great law of God's dealings, the reward of patient labour: "Ye shall reap if ye faint not."
H. R. Reynolds, Notes on the Christian Life, p. 334.
The Weary Well-doers.
I. Well-doing is the broad evidence of the Christian calling. We are the Lord's free army to drive the devil's unholy legions from the earth and to destroy the fruits of his accursed reign. It is the great enterprise of Christ; He came for it, lived for it, died for it, and reigns for it on high. He holds the hope of it as the dearest jewel of His treasure, the warmest passion of His heart. That man can be none of His who, seeing the poor lying wounded in the world's highway, passes by on the other side. Those who can leave the world to struggle on as it may, while they care for their own salvation, utter the most awful blasphemy if they take the name of Christian on their lips. To share Christ's burden here is man's great education for the bliss and glory of eternity.
II. Be not weary in welldoing. Note (1) the causes of weariness: (a) The weight of the flesh. The great battle of life is with the heavy, weary, languid flesh, that ties us to the dust. Weariness in welldoing is part of the universal weariness: the slow movement of the flesh under high compulsions; the deadness of the soul itself to truth and Christ and the eternal world, (b) The largeness of the problem. (c) The immense difficulty and intricacy of the work and the evil it brings in its train. (d) The measure in which sorrow is mixed with sin. (e) It is thankless work. We might give up our ministry in despair but for the memory that nothing in the way of our carelessness and thanklessness has dulled the zeal of the ministry of the Lord. (2) The reasons which should move us to endure: (a) Because such words as these are written in the Bible (Matthew 18:21-35); (b) because these words are sustained and enforced by the infinite patience and mercy of God; (c) this endurance is life's grand lesson; (d) there is an end which will fulfil all our hope for humanity in sight.
J. Baldwin Brown, The Sunday Afternoon, p. 295.
Against Weariness in Well-doing.
I. One consequence of welldoing, as an argument against weariness, is the consciousness and the joy of pleasing God. This being vividly realised, what cause of weariness might it not be set against? Consider, our Master has other servants, and it should not be absolutely foreign to our consideration (as an argument not to be weary) that the noblest and best of all His creatures are never tired or even remiss. Imagine the stupendous activity, the bright multitudinous agency, every moment, in so many scenes and employments, and from before the beginning of time. And would we have the sovereign Master to look down through all this immensity and grandeur of action to see us throwing His business aside in disgust?
II. Against being weary, let it be considered what is the fittest introduction and discipline for the other world. On what terms would a thoughtful spirit desire to go into it? Surely so that there should be the greatest delight and fitness. Well, then, if it be considered as a rest, labour up to the time, or an active scene, bring highly exerted powers. Is it a scene for the triumph of victory? But then the good fight must be maintained up to the very gate. View it as an access to the noblest society, but then the new-comer must have belonged to the best society where he came from. In all reason, we must wish to bring as near as possible together, in likeness as well as time, the habits and spirit of the state we aspire to and those in the state we quit, that it may not be a vast and abrupt change.
III. We shall reap. The persevering faithful will reap the Divine approbation and acceptance, the great Master's final applause. The emphasis of the "Well done!" will not be proportioned to the measure of success, but to the devotedness, diligence, fidelity, perseverance.
J. Foster, Lectures, vol. ii., p. 386.
References: Galatians 6:9.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii., No. 1383; T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 234; C. C. Bartholomew, Sermons chiefly Practical, p. 207; D. Rhys Jenkins, The Eternal Life, p. 70; W. M. Punshon, Sermons, p. 33. Galatians 6:9, Galatians 6:10.—H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 88. Galatians 6:10.—A. Blomfield, Sermons in Town and Country, p. 205; R. H. Hadden, Church of England Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 4. Galatians 6:11.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 108. Galatians 6:13.—J. C. Gallaway, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 228.
Galatians 6:14I. There is a use of the word "cosmos" in Scripture to which the test of its crucifixion by the Cross perfectly answers. This is the cosmos not of nature and not of man as God created either; not the beautiful universe in which philosophers and poets, and simple loving souls which are neither, delight to revel and expatiate; not the race made in God's image, partaking of His intelligence, and His forethought, and His sympathy, and His love, and even in its ruins prognosticating reconstruction; but that aspect, that element, of each which sin has defiled: matter as the foe of spirit and man as the bond-slave of the devil. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, this is the world. To have these things in the heart is to be worldly. This is the disease, the threefold disease, which Christ came to heal when He undertook the cure of worldliness.
II. In the crucifixion by the Cross there are two stages. (1) There is, first, a testimony. The Cross is a witness. It gives evidence against the world. The Cross is evidence against the vanity of worldliness; bids the man who would be a man do battle for the thing that is and look for his reward to a world not of shadows and to a life not of time. (2) The Cross is a power too. That ugly, that repulsive, that horrible, object, that frightful, that revolting, execution, that gibbet accursed of God and man, has become the magnet of humanity. Christ foretold it, and it is true. Wheresoever the Gospel of the Cross and the Crucified is preached there are found practical evidences—"infallible proofs" St. Luke would call them—of the power of the Cross to crucify men to the world. Not by trickery or magic, not by accident or machinery, but by the Spirit of the living God, is this influence upon hearts and lives wrought. Christ crucified becomes in His turn the mutual Crucifier of man and the world.
C. J. Vaughan, Simple Sermons, p. 113.
References: Galatians 6:14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi., No. 1859; Bishop M. Simpson, Sermons, p. 241; Homilist, 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 95; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ii., p. 94; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 397; Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 106; vol. iv., p. 164. Galatians 6:14, Galatians 6:15.—S. Pearson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv., pp. 181, 364. Galatians 6:15.—F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 49; G. E. L. Cotton, Sermons and Addresses in Maryborough College, p. 449; E. Cooper, Practical Sermons, vol. i., p. 80; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. vii., p. 93. Galatians 6:15, Galatians 6:16.—H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xix., p. 26.
Galatians 6:17I. Note the conception of the slave of Christ. What lies in that metaphor? Well, it is the most uncompromising assertion of the most absolute authority on the one hand and claim of unconditional subjection and obedience on the other. The Christian slavery, with its abject submission, with its utter surrender and suppression of mine own will, with its complete yielding up of self to the control of Jesus, who died for me, because it is based upon His surrender of Himself to me, and in its inmost essence it is the operation of love, is therefore co-existent with the noblest freedom.
II. Note the marks of ownership. The Apostle evidently means thereby distinctly the bodily weaknesses and possibly diseases which were the direct consequence of his own apostolic faithfulness and zeal. Every Christian man and woman ought to bear in his or her body, in a plain, literal sense, the tokens that he or she belongs to Jesus Christ. The old law of self-denial, or subduing the animal nature, its passions, appetites, desires, is as true and as needful today as it ever was; and for us all it is essential to the purity and loftiness of our Christian life that our animal nature and our fleshly constitution should be well kept down under heel and subdued.
III. Note the glorying in the slavery and its signs. In a triumph that is legitimate, the Apostle solemnly and proudly bears before men the marks of the Lord Jesus. He was proud of being dragged at the Conqueror's chariot-wheels, chained to them by the cords of love, and so he was proud of being the slave of Christ.
IV. Mark the immunity from any disturbance which men can bring which these marks and the servitude they express secure: "From henceforth let no man trouble me." Paul claims that his apostolic authority, having been established by the fact of his sufferings for Christ, should give him a sacredness in their eyes; that henceforth there should be no rebellion against his teaching and his word. In proportion as we belong to Christ and bear the marks of His possession of us, in that measure we are free from the disturbance of earthly influences and of human voices and from all the other sources of care and trouble, of perturbation and annoyance, which harass and vex other men's spirits.
A. Maclaren, Christian Commonwealth, Jan. 21st, 1886.
The Marks of the Lord Jesus.
These words are the magnificent outburst of a heart filled to the overflow with the spirit of impassioned consecration. The words are the language of a man who has made up his mind so firmly that he is conscious that there is not the faintest possible chance of his ever changing his determination. The "marks" are only so many seals upon a resolution deliberately taken, and so awfully intense in its nature that you may as well argue with a rock and expect to move it by force of your logic, as anticipate effecting the slightest alteration of my determined purpose.
I. This is the language of a devoted servant. The word employed is "stigmata," and the original, the primary, meaning of that word is the brand which the slave bore on his person, with either the initials, the mark, or the name of his owner. You will see how this illustrates our subject. Let us remember (1) at what a price our Master bought us, for if we remember that we shall glory in bearing the stigmata. (2) Bear in mind how well He has treated us since He did buy us. (3) Remember that we do bear His marks, and that we cannot get rid of them. Play the traitor, if you will, but everybody shall know it. You have received a brand that cannot be effaced.
II. The words are the language of a true-hearted veteran. Although the first and the chief meaning of "stigmata" is the brand the slave bore to show that he was the property of another, yet the word also meant any scar; and the Apostle had this in his mind also. "Do you think I am going to give the Lord up now? Look at what I have endured for Him." He looked upon his scars as so many badges of honour.
A. G. Brown, Penny Pulpit, No. 1015.
References: Galatians 6:17.—Christian World Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 95; vol. xxvii., p. 229; Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 145; F. E. Paget, Sermons for Special Occasions, p. 127.
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
For every man shall bear his own burden.
Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.
As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.