SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- In the first two verses, Paul explains that we are responsible for others. When someone is struggling, we need to help them as best we can.
- In verses 3-9 Paul exhorts his readers to worry about this own sins. Instead of judging others, we should help them, and judge ourselves. So we should not "please our flesh" (sin) (verse 8) and we should "not become weary in doing good" (verse 9).
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- In verse 7 Paul gives his readers a general principle: God cannot be mocked. He explains in the next sentence that, “a man reaps what he sows.” This is a cardinal principle for our spiritual life but it is hard to measure. For instance, someone who always loves God and others may experience many troubles outside of their control. Paul is not giving us a promise that if we live by the Spirit we will never have trouble. He is teaching us that when we live to please God (living by the Spirit) we will be blessed at the proper time. That is, if we sacrifice our selfishness and serve God we will ultimately be rewarded with intimacy with God and be free from pain and the effects of sin.
- Paul ends the letter by reminding his readers of what matters. He says that what counts is a new creation - new life in Jesus, in God's new Kingdom. He also says that he only boasts in the cross of Christ. To boast in the cross means to express Jesus and his sacrifice as most important and worthy of honor. Those who follow Jesus boast in the cross, which has brought them freedom.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Do the troubles you experience in this life sometimes cause you to grow weary of doing good? How could knowing there is reward from God coming help you to continue to devote yourself to doing good? What could you do this week to help you look past the troubles of this life and to the reward in the life to come?