EVERY MAN SHALL BEAR HIS OWN BURDEN (continued) Galatians 6:4-5
In the day of judgment we must boast in our own work and not in that of another. The preening Pharisee boasted in his own work by a false comparison with that of “all the rest” and, in particular, of this publican (Luke 18:11ff.). For only those who truly have the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, etc. shall inherit the kingdom of God! (Gal. 5:19-24)
KEEPING THE NEW TESTAMENT SABBATH DAY IN DOING GOOD
It might seem strange to caption Gal. 6:6-10 by speaking of the Sabbath day; however, a little thought and reflection will show that recompensing the teachers (catechetes) of the Word and relieving the poor is the very quintessence of Sabbath-keeping in the love of God, which is the very fulfilment of the whole law, and, therefore, also of the fourth, commandment as given in Exodus 20:9-11, as well as in Deuteronomy 5:14-15. As much as Paul militates against the keeping of mere days, months, times, and years, as being so much weak and beggarly principles of this world (Gal. 4:8-11; Col. 2:8, 20)—the scrupulous and minutely measuring off of days—so much he insists on the spiritual keeping of the Sabbath by the Bride of Christ, as she awaits the coming of the Bridegroom in the eternal Sabbath, as her resurrected Lord over death and hell. The Lord is the Lord of the Sabbath day (Matt. 12:7-8). What is Sabbath-keeping without shewing of mercy, and giving of our tithes to the Levites, who must be remembered forever? (Hosea 6:5-7; Mal. 3:8-12, Duet. 12:12, 19) Presently, in the eternal Sabbath, the tabernacle of God shall be with men! That is the eternal Rest into which we now strive to enter! (Heb. 4:7-11)
Of this keeping of the Sabbath rest Paul is speaking in these verses. For here in this New Testament Sabbath rest we are active as a fellowship of saints. For notice, that, in verses 6-8, Paul is exhorting him, who is catechized (ho katechumenon) to communicate unto him that teaches (too katechounti) in all good things. It is to be observed that the text does not say “give” or “repay,” or some such verb, but Paul uses the verb “communicate.” There are expositors who interpret this to mean that there should be spiritual fellowship between the teacher and the pupil in the church. Now this is true enough in itself; this should always be the case. But we believe that the phrase in question says more. For it speaks of “all good things” which must be communicated. This must refer to tempera1 goods (Luke 12:18-19;16:25). Paul is suggesting here that a “laborer is worthy of his hire” (I Tim. 5:18: I Cor. 9:9-11). Meanwhile, such “communicating” is, indeed, a voluntary and liberal sharing of goods to those who labor in the Word. It is a faith which is energized by love. It is love in action! It is basically an operation within the fellowship of the saints, in the midst of those who are some firstfruits of God’s creation (James 1:18). For are we not now living within the spiritual fulfillment of the year of Jubilee, where each man shares again in his allotted inheritance in Israel? Here we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, believing that all things are added unto us (Matt. 6:33).
Now this is very serious business. God is not mocked. Thus speaks Paul in Gal. 6:7. We cannot with impunity turn our nose up to God. Such is the meaning of the Greek verb mukteerizetai. In effect, that is what the Galatians were doing. The evil preachers, who corrupted the Gospel, were deceiving them. And Paul says “stop being deceived.” Do not continue to be led astray by these “wandering stars” (Gal. 6:7; Jude 13). In the matter of giving for the kingdom we are dealing with God, before Whom all things are naked and opened (Heb. 4:13). God has a special care for His laboring servants (Mal. 3:8-10). Those who withheld the tithes from the priests and Levites were robbing God, they commit sacrilege, they rob temples! (“hierosuleis” Rom. 2:22) And the wrath and curse of God comes upon those who care not for His holy temple. But those who bring their tithes willing to support the ministry in the temple, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, to them God opens the windows of heaven in a spiritual harvest. (Mal. 3:10; Ps. 112:9-10; I Cor. 9:9)
The text teaches that we are now in the seed-time of our life; life is a time of sowing. Always we are sowing to enter into the final rest, the eternal Sabbath. Our sowing is really Sabbath-keeping. Our fathers caught the genius of this in explaining the fourth Commandment concerning the hallowing of the Sabbath. In Question 103 the answer is “First, that the ministry of the Gospel and the schools be maintained.” That is what Paul teaches here in Gal. 6:6-7. This is not miles remote from the commandment of God in Exodus 20:9-11. It zeroes in on the very heart of the keeping of the Sabbath. Surely, surely, Paul taught these Galatians that the first day of the week was the day of the resurrection (I Cor. 16:1). Also these Galatian churches must “lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” These “day-minded” saints in Galatia did not need to have that admonition at this stage of their life, but needed to be told what to do on this first day of the week particularly, and no less on other days of the week. This last matter of communicating to the ministry is a perennial problem. It is the real problem for those, who, even now, scrupulously keep the first day of the week in a most Puritanical manner! Let there be no doubt about that!
There is also the matter of the two kinds of sowing and harvesting which is here underscored. There is a sowing to the flesh, the sinful lusts, and there is a sowing to the Spirit, the new life in Christ.
Let us try to understand!
Yes, what any man sows, that shall he reap. A simple farmer knows that principle very well. On this score he is not deceived in sowing his grain. Nor is any man, for that matter. However, there is also a moral sowing and a moral reaping. And here we are dealing with the morally evil sowing and reaping and the morally good sowing and reaping. And in this matter of moral sowing and reaping the Christian must in this life begin the eternal Sabbath; he “must all the days of his (my) life cease from his (my) evil works, and yield himself (myself) to the Lord, to work by his Holy Spirit in him (me), and thus begin the eternal sabbath in this life.” (Heid. Cat. Question 103)
First of all, sowing unto the flesh corruption should be noticed. This is a sowing to fulfill the desires of the flesh, the old evil nature. It means that we give unto the causes of God’s kingdom only for our own sinful, selfish purposes, our own honor and advantage, to have glory of men (Matt. 6:1-4). Then one has his reward: it is the reward of corruption. It is moral corruption, which gives no joy, peace, in the knowledge that we have served God. Only more evil proceeds from such “communicating.” We see how this ended in a Judas, that he went out and hanged himself. God was not mocked in the case of Judas, who pretended to care for the poor (John 12:1-6; Matt. 27:3-10; Acts 1:16-20). This truth Paul binds upon the consciences of the Galatians concerning the proper keeping of the New Testament Sabbath. Well may we take this to heart!
Secondly, there is the sowing unto the Spirit. It is a sowing more and more into (eis) the Spirit. This is a progressive sanctification in this regard. And this means that we sow more and more in the crucifixion of the flesh and in the renewal by the Spirit with a view to tasting eternal life, joy, peace, hope; it means that we experience that God opens the windows of heaven upon us in showers of blessings of life and peace. And our communicating to the teachers and the ministry of the Gospel has such great reward. That is the positive reward of keeping the Sabbath! No, these are then not merits which we receive, but they are good works which God rewards in this life and in the life to come (Psalm 112:4-9). Yea, even the wicked shall in this life and in the life to come see the reward of the righteous. Is not Abel a tangible evidence in this day? (Heb. 11:4-5) See also II Cor. 9:9-15.
There is still another side to this coin of giving to those who teach in the Gospel. It is that ministers must not teach for the sake of filthy lucre. They are “men of God” and should conduct themselves as such, as men who labor in the temple of God. They must flee from the love of money (Heb. 13:5-6). Because they definitely are ordained to work in God’s temple, the church (Eph. 2:19-22), they must follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness (I Tim. 6:10-11). Also ministers must heed the tender assurance of Jesus, that, in their seeking the kingdom of God, all their earthly necessities will be added (thrown to them) unto them (Matt. 6:33). There is one thing which is far worse than a poor Elijah at the brook Cherith, fed by the ravens, and that is a covetous minister and elder. For a covetous minister has no power of trust in God, and does not sow unto the Spirit to eternal life! A minister must say: I do not seek yours, but I seek you, to present you a perfect bride in the day of Christ. May that boasting never be taken from his lips in the house of God!
DO GOOD AND FAINT NOT (Galatians 6:9-10)
There must be an unflagging doing of “the good.” The “good” are the “kalos,” the beautiful works which reflect that we are children of God, partakers of the divine nature (II Peter 1:3-4; Matt. 5:4-16). They are beautiful before men; they are the grace of God magnified and manifested in us. In this doing good we must persevere. We do such good works as thankofferings through (dia—Ieesous) Jesus, Who suffered outside of the gate (Heb. 13:15-16). Such are the spiritual which are acceptable by (dia) Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:4-5). This “the good” stands diametrically opposed to all “the evil,” the loveless!
No, we must not become fainthearted. Paul mentions such faintheartedness of saints more than once, applying this to himself (Eph. 3:13; II Cor. 4:1). We must run the race with patience, also in doing the good and beautiful works of maintaining the ministry of the Word and of the schools. How fainthearted do not parents, School Boards often become! The price is so high. We pay to ministers’ salaries, support retired ministers, underwrite and pay for the mission efforts of our churches. And this must even remain “communicating.” It is the hard and upward road of faith, where we look for the Lord to open the windows of heaven for us. When this becomes an awesome burden because we are impeded by the world, we must press on to the gates of heaven. It all belongs to our sabbath-keeping as pilgrims and strangers, born from Sarah; yea, as we are persecuted by the children of Hagar. Yes, we shall reap if we faint not. We shall reap in due time (kaipoo idioo) according to the sure promise of God! (Rev. 2:5, 16; 3:11;22:7, 12, 20) That will be the final harvest. (Matt. 13:30,39, Rev. 14:15)