2 Kings 5:1-14–Syrian Namaan healed by Elisha.
Isaiah 66:10-14 –As a mother nurses a child, so I will console you O Jerusalem.
Psalm 30–God’s anger lasts a moment, God’s favor for a lifetime.
Psalm 66:1-9–Praise the Lord, all you nations!
Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16 –(Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.) You reap what you sow. Do not become wearing in doing good. I don’t boast in circumcision, but in the cross of Christ alone.
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20– The sending of the 70: See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.5Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near…
Note: July 4 is Independence Day
July 7, Galatians 6:[1-6] 7-16
Today is the last in a series on Galatians:
- June 2, Galatians 1:1-12
- June 9, Galatians 1:11-24
- June 16, Galatians 2:15-21 (June 16 is also Father’s Day)
- June 23, Galatians 3:23-29 (June 19 is Juneteenth)
- June 30, Galatians 5:1, 13-25 (July 4 is Independence Day)
- July 7, Galatians 6:[1-6] 7-16
Here is the text for Sunday:
[My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves.4All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride. 5For all must carry their own loads. 6Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher.]
7Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. 8If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. 10So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.
11See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! 12It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised-only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. 14May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! 16As for those who will follow this rule-peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. 17From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body. 18May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
Today’s lesson is the entire sixth and final chapter of Galatians. The first six verses are optional, but I would read them.
6:2 is a gem, summing up so much of what Paul wants to say about the law: “Bear one another’s burdens, for in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.” This is the only place I’m aware of that Paul uses the phrase “law of Christ,” but after the argument in the previous five chapters, it all makes sense. Paul has died to the law of Moses (Torah), in order to live in the law of Christ (love, which is the fulfillment of the law (Leviticus 19:18, Galatians 5:14, Romans 13:10).
Galatians is a combination of ancient letter form, exegesis and classical rhetoric. Classical rhetoric form looks like this.
2. Narratio – A detailed narrative of the events central to the issue.
3. Propositio – A clear statement of the thesis.
4. Probatio – Arguments that support the thesis.
5. Refutatio – A refutation of the opponents real or imagined arguments.
6. Exortatio – Exortation. Therefore, do this. Don’t do that…
7. Peroratio – A restatement of the central theme with closure and often an emotional appeal.
(Adapted from Gorman, Michael, Apostle of the Crucified Lord, A Theological Introduction to Paul and his Letters.)
Paul uses this form quite eloquently in both Romans and Galatians. He is driving home a point. Having now stated his case, defended his thesis and refuted his opponents’ arguments, chapter six has the Exortatio and the Peroratio.
Now Paul exhorts, as he does at the end of every letter. Therefore, let us…
9So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. 10So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.
Don’t get tired of doing good. For Paul, justification by grace through faith does not mean we give up on good works. We just don’t depend on them for confidence in our own righteousness. They are instead an outpouring of the love and grace we have experienced.
Paul says we should work for the good of all, especially the family of faith. This may seem to give priority to the church. Keep in mind Paul says we are to work for the good of all. If, however, we work for the good of all, and neglect our own faith family, something is clearly wrong. While reaching out to the world, don’t neglect the needs that are right in front of you in your own faith family.
Paul takes the pen now from his scribe and writes with his own hand (verse 11). This may be to prove to the Galatians that the letter is authentically from him. It may also be to score his peroratio, peroration, his recapitulation of the point of the letter. And with it he makes a dig: Those who want you to be circumcised are doing so because they don’t want to be persecuted for Christ’s sake. Jews were the only people given an exception from Emperor worship. Others were expected to do so on pain of torture. Demonstrating obedience to Torah by getting circumcised might save one from persecution. Below Paul says, “let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body.” He has suffered such persecution.
“See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand!” This will probably never be anybody’s Confirmation verse. It is, however, an interesting segue. The big letters with which Paul writes (verse 11) may be because of his failing eyesight (Galatians 4:15). Or better, perhaps he is writing in big letters to underscore his point above, just like folks today use all-caps to stress a point. Some say all-caps is like shouting in email. Paul is shouting to the Galatians. DON’T BOAST ABOUT YOUR FLESH, YOUR CIRCUMCISED FLESH, YOUR SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. ONLY BOAST IN THE CROSS OF CHRIST.
Paul has clearly found circumcision problematic, because the circumcised are putting their confidence in the flesh (i.e. circumcision). Paul does not want to put his confidence in his… flesh, but rather in faith in God, through Christ.
His opponents, who have infiltrated the Galatian church that Paul founded, believe that since they are circumcised, they are righteous. That’s all you need. Those who are not circumcised are clearly unrighteous. Paul grieves that the Galatians have traded their freedom in Christ for another religion of law. Paul believes confidence in the flesh actually pushes us away from God. Bultmann classically defined the flesh as, “The self-reliant attitude of the man who puts his trust in his own strengths and in that which is controllable by him.”
The homiletical opening here, as I see it, is this: In what do you put your confidence? This is Luther’s classic question. Who is your god? Your god is that to which you turn in time of trouble. Here is an excerpt from Luther’s Large Catechism, his explanation of the first commandment:
To have a god means this: You expect to receive all good things from it and turn to it in every time of trouble. Yes, to have a god means to trust and to believe in Him with your whole heart. I have often said that only the trust and faith of the heart can make God or an idol.
What gives you all good things? Clearly, in the U.S. money is our primary god. This is not a new god. Many cultures and eras have worshipped this god. We turn to wealth to deliver “all good things” to us, as Luther puts it. Wealth, success, power, privilege. These are the things in which we put our hope. They are the treasure in the field for which we will sacrifice all else.
A teacher was walking with his student along a noisy downtown street. Suddenly, the teacher said, “Did you hear that? A cricket!” The student said, “No way. How could you possibly hear a cricket in the midst of all this noise?” The teacher walked over to a planter, reached down and lifted up a cricket. “Wow, how did you do that,” the student asked. “You hear what you listen for. You find what you seek.” The student said, “I don’t. believe it.” So the teacher reached into his pocket and pulled out a few coins, throwing them onto the sidewalk. As they jangled onto the pavement, people started turning to see where the noise came from. The teacher said, “See? People hear what they are looking for. We find what we seek.”
Following Christ means putting our confidence in faith, not in money, not in our self-righteousness. It means trusting God, then loving our neighbor. This is Paul’s confession in Galatians. For love is the fulfillment of the law.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Michael Rinehart