Let him that is taught in the word communicate to him that teaches in all good things.
Paul has just spoken of the most delicate and precious form of philanthropy - that which deals with a brother's sins. And now he passes on to speak, just for a moment, of the duty which the Galatians owe to their spiritual teachers. They are pre-eminently the unburdeners of men's hearts; they undertake as life's chief work the ministering to minds diseased. Let them be considered, therefore, and receive all good things from those they serve. But he passes on to the greater truth of which this "ministerial support" is only a small application - that life is a seed-time; and, according as men sow, must they real,. Let philanthropy rejoice, therefore, in every opportunity of doing other people good, for a harvest with its golden glory awaits all true workers in the other life.
I. WHEN THIS LIFE IS LOOKED UPON AS SEED-TIME, WE ARE PROJECTED OF NECESSITY FOR OUR HARVEST UPON ANOTHER AND BETTER LIFE, The mistake many make is in turning this life into harvest and looking on what it affords as all. It makes a mighty difference if I am living in the autumn only and am for ever past the spring. Now, Christianity, as the religion of hope, leads us to this view of the present life. It is only seed-time. The harvest is not yet. No refinement of speculation can be allowed to cheat us of our assurance of immortality. We are only in the spring. The summer and the autumn are before us.
II. THOSE WHO SOW TO THE FLESH HAVE A FEARFUL HARVEST BEFORE THEM. (Ver. 8.) Now, it is well for us to remember here that ritualism, or salvation by ceremonies, is the error mainly attacked in this Epistle. And a careful study of Paul's writings shows that he puts this into the same category as the sins of the flesh. "Whereas there is among you," said he to the Corinthians, "envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" The exclusiveness of the ceremonialists was a bondage to the elements of the world. "The Law," it has been powerfully said, "was properly a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ; but in so far as its temporary disciplinary character was lost sight of - so far as it was made a ground of national exclusiveness, and its observance a matter of personal pride - it cut its votaries off from the righteousness of God, which is essentially a derived, communicated, and universal righteousness; not of works, but of grace; not for a peculiar people, but for all men. They were living, not in the freedom and self-abandonment of the Spirit, but in the exclusiveness and selfishness of the flesh." Hence the sowing to the flesh, in its more elevated or more degraded forms, can have only one issue, and this is "corruption." What comes of the exclusiveness and fair show in the flesh? Does it promote spiritual interests? Is it not productive of vain-glory and of the corrupt, self-righteous spirit? The harvest is one of disappointment. It profiteth nothing. Into the corruption to which the grosser sins of the flesh lead we need not here enter with any particularity.
III. THOSE WHO SOW TO THE SPIRIT SHALL REAP ETERNAL LIFE. (Ver. 8.) The sowing to the Spirit is the antithesis of sowing to the flesh. It means living with spiritual and immortal aims. It means, as the succeeding context shows, the life of active philanthropy. Now, a harvest of "eternal life" (Revised Version) is before all such philanthropists. Their life on earth is a seed-time which has this immortal harvest. The very life of God, who is eternal, becomes ours, and its fulness within us is just proportional to our present diligence in philanthropy.
IV. THIS SHOULD LEAD TO GREAT PATIENCE AND COURAGE IN OUR WORK. (Ver. 9.) We should not faint or get weary in our well-doing. Work along this line is sure to tell. Let us not be discouraged. Let us give the first place in our philanthropy to "the household of faith," and the second place to "all men" indiscriminately. Let us honestly be public benefactors, and a multiplication of blessing will be found awaiting us when the harvest comes, beyond our most sanguine hopes. The patience of hope is the attitude of every believing soul, and the harvest is in a wealth of life beyond the shadows proportional to our philanthropic spirit here. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.