4 March • Saturday of the First Week in Lent
1. Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.
6. Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
11. See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
17. From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
18. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
Jesus gave His disciples a “new command” to love one another as He had loved them (Jn 13:34). In summarising the Law and the Prophets into a vertical “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and a horizontal “Love your neighbour as yourself”, Jesus gets to the heart of God’s law (Mt 22:37-40). The religious leaders of His day had turned the law into a legalistic edifice that did not adequately represent the holiness and heart of God. The Galatian Christians had a problem with rightly understanding the divine law. In this passage, Paul refers to “the law of Christ”—in particular His command that we love one another. James calls it the “royal law”—the law that was given by the Lord (Jas 2:8).
How can Christians obey the law of Christ? There are many examples here: from the way we gently restore a brother who is caught in sin (v.1) to how we keep doing good in an unwearied way, especially to our fellow believers (vv.9-10). This cannot be done in our own strength, for it requires supernatural grace brought to us by the cross of Christ, which itself is the best evidence of God’s grace and love (v.14).
Every day, we have opportunities to sow either to please our fallen sinful nature, or to please the Spirit (v.8). What we do habitually will show whether we are saved and will point to our eternal destiny. How we love God and others will show the true condition of our souls. When we stand before God one day, more important than saying “I knew” or “I did” will be to say, “I loved”. It reveals that Christ lives and rules within, and His love forms and informs all of our lives.
Dear Lord, help me to remember what You have commanded and what pleases You. Help me to take care that I do not fall prey to the devil, the world, and the flesh by ending up loving just myself and taking pride in it. Instead empower me to love You, and as a result love the others around me. Help me to become like You in the way I relate with them, the good as well as the bad.
Make a list under the title “Doing good to all people”. Be specific and focus on the real people in your life, be they family, friends, fellow-believers, and strangers, giving attention to attitudes and acts that will demonstrate obedience to the law of Christ. Seek to live out the list you have made.
Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon
The Methodist Church in Singapore