1 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.
2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
This is a fascinating passage, and one that I hope I can glean something from that will help my readers.
The first thing that I notice here is an emphasis on a Christ-like spirit in the midst of difficult interpersonal relations. There is no excuse for “Well, he did that to me,” or, “Well, he didn’t keep my trust.” There are no exceptions to this rule listed here. We are told to be meek, to help the brother get right, to learn from his mistakes, and to be humble. A very tall order, and one which we definitely cannot fulfill on our own, which is why it says ‘ye which are spiritual.’ If we are living a fleshly lifestyle, then we cannot be trusted to yield to the Spirit enough to actually help the person. We will most likely only make it worse. Even if we might be able to see what is wrong, and the Biblical way to get out of it, we cannot impart that correctly if we are not living it.
The second thing that I notice is that we are to bear each others burdens somehow. There are two possibilities that I see in this phrasing: we are either to bear with another person and his trials, or we are to help that person and make his burden easier by bearing it with him. I honestly am not sure which is meant here, as both are referred to and commanded elsewhere. We are to be longsuffering and patient, remaining kind with people, realizing that they have trials and hardships like us. We are also to help others, lifting, building, and exhorting them. Both are also mentioned in the last part of the previous verse. We are to restore the person (helping him back up) and we are to do it with meekness (being humbly patient and kind with him). The law of Christ commands us to love our neighbour, as Christ loves us, which also includes both being patient and helping us by giving us strength. The word ‘bear’ also can mean either putting up with or enduring something, or receiving and carrying something. So, I think that I will leave it thus until I have the time to do a more in-depth study, and say that we need to do both anyhow. 🙂
The third and last thing that I notice is that there is a distinct reference to Romans 2:1 and 1 John 1:8-10.
Romans 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
We are miserable sinners, plain and simple. That is, of course, not the only motive for humility (as evidenced by Jesus being humble), but it is one that is always ready to hand. We need to realize that we truly are only able to keep from sinning by the grace and mercy of God, and that we are sinners and in need of forgiveness as much as anyone, including Hitler and any other horrible criminal you can think of. If we do not realize that, we will be pretty miserable tools for God’s use in this world, and we need to realize that.
With joy and peace in Christ,