Sabbath School Lesson for September 16-22, 2017
After recognizing that true gospel living begins with the Holy Spirit, Paul continues his description of a faithful servant by pointing out his duty to those around him. He must first minister to those closest to him, especially those in the church. But this ministry must extend to all of God’s humanity. Jesus came to make His salvation available to all. And we are merely following His example of righteous living by easing the burdens of others.
The workings of grace in our lives must make us more humble, compassionate, and patient, so we are able to lift others above whatever storms they may be facing. That is one of the main purposes of God’s church, and will lead to the greatest harvest when Christ comes again.
The church, like every individual in the church, must not only preach the gospel, but live it. The church can’t afford to offer random acts of kindness to the community. Our gifts of kindness must be consistent and thoughtfully executed, with an intentional effort at inclusiveness. Both saint and sinner must be reached with the love of God, if we are to deliver the gospel, as Christ has commissioned us to do.
Memory Text: “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 ESV
Notice this verse says “as we have opportunity,” not as we have financial resources, talents, skills, or desire, but as we have opportunity. Our eyes must be constantly peeled for the opportunities that appear before us every day. There are people in all walks of life, who are hurting, both physically and emotionally, who we are told to assist. If we can identify the needs, God will equip us.
Sometimes the ones easiest to miss are those closest to us…those in our own congregation. By helping those among us, we aren’t showing partiality or preference. It’s very much like telling a caregiver to take care of him or herself first, so he’s able to perform his often difficult caregiving tasks. Aren’t we told on airplanes to put on our own oxygen mask first, so we can help more vulnerable passengers with theirs?
Sunday: Restoring the Fallen
Galatians 6:1 tells us:
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, [not certain ones, but ANY] you who are spiritual restore [not punish, condemn, or humiliate] such a one in a spirit of gentleness, [not condescendingly or with harshness] considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” [remembering that none of us are above being tempted ourselves]
This verse alone seems to encompass the whole Church Manual, when it comes to church discipline. We find that the church must discipline its members on rare occasions, when all other attempts to correct a situation fail and the mission of the gospel is at stake. But the purpose of any action should always be to restore, not just the church, but the individual involved in the turmoil.
This may call for some creative, aggressive actions on the part of the church, but all options should be carefully and prayerfully decided and implemented. Once again humility, compassion, and patience are needed for the best outcomes to occur.
Discussion Questions: Read Galatians 6:1 and Matthew 18:15-17. How do we know when a sin or weakness in character has overtaken us? How should someone who refuses correction be treated by the church–how should we treat those outside the church (“heathens and tax collectors”)?
Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. Why is Paul sounding harsher than Jesus did on this subject? Should we be more assertive when dealing with some sins? Is our ever-changing culture a factor in what sins we tolerate and which ones we don’t? And should it be?
Read Matthew 4:21. The word “restore” is the same Greek word used for mending, such as mending a fishnet. How would this fisherman skill prove helpful when Jesus called them to “fish” for men?
Monday: Beware of Temptation
The last part of Galatians 6:1–“considering yourself lest you also be tempted”—is an important part of correcting and restoring someone to the faith.
We must be always mindful of our own fragile spiritual state. None of us are exempt from sin, and all can fall prey to any and all temptation, if the circumstances are right.
Pride comes in many forms, but perhaps the most overlooked one is spiritual pride. This mostly involves thinking we are above sinning. Most of us are likely to admit that we make mistakes and have weaknesses in certain areas, but our pride makes us believe that we are above more flagrant sins, such as adultery, murder, and even drug and alcohol use. Or we might feel we are not plagued with doubt or pride or hypocrisy, when in fact those are our exact problems.
Only a very humble person finds himself without this spiritual pride, and yet this pure and holy virtue must be most guarded when we are involved with helping our brother or sister get their life in order.
Discussion Questions: Read Matthew 26:33, 34 and 1 Corinthians 10:12. What caused Peter to have spiritual pride, and how does it get us into trouble?
Read 2 Samuel 12:1-7. How can we gently, yet firmly, touch someone’s heart like Nathan did, when he approached King David? How important is it to remember the status of the person we are correcting? (They may not be the King, but they are a child of the King.)
When sending a believer to speak a word of correction to someone, why does a person with a common background or who has had similar problems often find himself in that role? How helpful is this and what extra cautions can be taken to ensure a positive outcome?
Tuesday: Burden Bearing
Galatians 6:2-5 seems to hold a contradiction about the burdens we bear…
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.” NKJV
Verse 2 says to bear one another’s burdens, but verse 5 says each one shall bear how own load. In order to understand these two directives we must recognize the nature of burden bearing:
- All Christians have burdens of various kinds (temptation, physical illness, mental/emotional issues, family crises, employment difficulties, and a host of others).
- God does not intend us to carry our burdens alone (we must accept God’s help, whether it comes as inner peace or something more tangible, either directly from God or offered to us by another person).
- We must never feel we are too self-sufficient to receive help, no matter what form it comes to us.
When we achieve a proper attitude and understanding about our burdens, we are carrying our part of them.
Therefore, we are not carrying our burdens properly when we…
- refuse to admit we have a problem
- refuse to accept help from a source outside ourselves
Discussion Questions: Read Galatians 6:2, 5 and Romans 15:1. How is this bearing our own load (v. 5) different from when we help others bear theirs (v. 2)?
Read Galatians 6:3, Romans 12:3, 2 Corinthians 3:5 and Psalm 139:23. Who is the only one who can truly know our heart and why do we need His help, even for our own soul-searching?
Read Galatians 6:4 and Luke 18:11. What was wrong with the way the Pharisee examined himself? Is it possible to pray with yourself, and not include God? How do we avoid doing this?
Wednesday: The Law of Christ
How does bearing one another’s burdens fulfill the law of Christ, as it says in Galatians 6:2? We must recall what Paul wrote in Galatians 5:14, when he said:
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “ NKJV
Loving others is how we show our love to God, love being then the fulfillment of the law. This is why Jesus could tell us that when we show love to the “least of these my brethren”, we are doing it to Him (Matthew 25:40). Loving others is evidently the same as loving God.
Many wonder if we really must rely on God’s help alone. After all, Jesus did instruct us to…
” ‘Come to Me, all you who are labor and are heavy laden, and I will show you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’ “ Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV
This sounds like every burden of ours must be taken to the Lord. But just as He sends help to us in a variety of forms, He sends us out to be a help to those who are also in need.
We can’t lift another’s burden without God’s help. So God really does get all the credit. He carries our burdens, and gives us the strength to carry one another’s burdens.
Discussion Questions: Read Galatians 6:2-5. Are there really any burdens that are safe for us to carry on our own? What part do we play when it comes to our trials? Is recognizing that we have a burden and asking for help part of bearing it properly?
Read Galatians 6:2, 5:14, and John 13:34. Why did Paul refer to this as a commandment of Christ, and not God? What made it a new commandment?
Read Jeremiah 31:33 and 1 John 5:3. What makes burden-bearing possible and how does love ease our burdens and make keeping all the commandments easier?
Thursday: Sowing and Reaping
Just what is meant by saying that God is not mocked in Galatians 6:7? This verse tells us not to be deceived (evidently we humans are capable of being deceived), but also that God is not mocked (evidently He is incapable of being mocked).
Mockery in the Old Testament is most often used to describe how God’s prophets were despised and rejected. God must therefore be above harm when it comes to our rebellious ways. It saddens Him surely, but in no way does it affect His power or ability to rule the universe.
If a man sows rebellion against God, man is the one who suffers for it, not God. The next few verses clarify this principle and then gives us positive ways to counteract our tendency to attempt to “mock” God.
- The Holy Spirit must be involved, v. 8
- Don’t lose patience or give up, v. 9
- Continue to do good and help those around us, both in the church and the community at large, v. 10
Discussion Questions: Read Galatians 6:6 and 1 Corinthians 9:11-14. Why is it important to support those who teach us?
Read Galatians 6:7 and Romans 2:5-9. What are some of the things we sow, and what is reaped as a consequence?
Read Galatians 6:8-10 and Romans 2:10-11. Why is there a distinction of Jews and Gentiles in how we are to serve others, when there is no partiality with God? Why does it make sense to help those in the church first?
The most striking things we discovered this week may have been that…
- Church discipline must involve humility, compassion, and patience to restore not just the church, but the individual being disciplined. (Sunday–Restoring the Fallen)
- Spiritual pride prevents true, redemptive solutions. (Monday–Beware of Temptation)
- Burden bearing works best when we realize we or others need help, and reaching out to God for direction. (Tuesday–Burden Bearing)
- Love is the single factor that provides success in our service to others. (Wednesday–The Law of Christ)
- Our tendency to sow destruction does not lessen God’s power to intervene. (Thursday–Sowing and Reaping)
Just as Jesus came to minister first to the house of Israel, we are instructed to reach out to those in our church family first. Not at the same time, but first.
There is an important reason for this. A simple analogy is when we are told on an airplane to put on our own oxygen mask first, before we help anyone next to us who may need help. This is so we have the strength to aid those around us.
The church must be in the best spiritual health it can be, before attempting to serve the community at large. Nurturing each other is a way to guarantee our success in reaching out to friends outside the church. It seems to be a continuous activity though, and one that constantly must be attended to. This is the purpose of a pastor, one who feeds the flock.
The church members are the ones charged with becoming disciples and apostles, thus increasing the influence and size of their local flock, even resulting in planting new churches. Of course, these duties are at times shared by pastors and members. But the main thing is that eventually service must be performed simultaneously for the church, both inside and outside the church community.
Next Week: Boasting in the Cross
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
All Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/