It’s been very instructive for me to focus on the fruit of the Spirit. In the average daily struggle, calling to mind my Comforter and Counselor and Agent of true change has been such a help!
How has it been for you to study the spiritual fruit? We have one more time together today to dig into the practical method of walking by the Spirit, evidencing His fruit and applying it in the restoration of fellow believers.
 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.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.  For each will have to bear his own load. (ESV)
Getting to the Heart:
We learned yesterday that the Lord Jesus is in the process of restoring each of us to His image. He is the absolute best at the work of restoration. He sees the finished product, and just as one house is different from another, so the Lord knows the uniqueness of every believer. As a Master carpenter, Jesus knows all about using tools, and his main tools in the people restoration projects are you and me! And He further counsels us about the tools we need to follow His plans for restoring one another. Yesterday we learned about Gentleness and Watchfulness. Today let’s dig in further to learn about the other two tools we need in our restoration kits.
- Watchfulness. (For these first two see the previous article in this series).
- Love – Paul says that restoration requires burden-bearing, and this fulfills the law of Christ. What law? Aren’t we free from the law now? Well, yes, but also no. The law of God is no threat to our security and freedom, but by the Spirit we are free to work out our salvation, and in this case it is the law of love for neighbor. Remember how Jesus bore the burden of our sin, all the way to the cross (see 1 Pet. 2:24)? This was love in action! We are called to enter the messiness of sin, not to partake in it but to rescue and restore someone. Even when we would cringe at entering a messy situation with someone, we can rejoice to identify with our Burden-bearer.
- Your backpack – Ok, this tool doesn’t seem to match the others, but it’s legitimately in these verses! Galatians 6:5 says “Each will have to bear his own load.” “Load” is not the same word as “burden” (6:2). It actually refers to a small pack that a traveler would wear, and the pack is essential and as personal as each individual. Another skill that Jesus wants His followers to have is the skill of honest self-assessment, and that’s what the text means by “each will have to bear his own load.” Each of us has unique skills, setbacks, strengths and weaknesses. We do no good by comparing ourselves with others, but there’s a humility that comes when we remember who we are and the growth God has worked out in us over time. Each of us has limitations in carrying out our spiritual responsibility, but that shouldn’t stop us from seeking to restore others! If anything an honest self-assessment provides us with two things (at least): 1) a healthy “boasting” in what God has done in our lives: a cause for rejoicing; 2) patience with others in their sin, especially not taking personally what they say or do. When someone may respond in anger we can rightly think, I don’t know what that brother may be facing today or what is in his backpack. Perhaps he’s farther along with the Lord than he was a year ago. Regardless, the Lord is at work!
The bottom line: if we would apply gentleness, humility, love and a proper self-awareness to our ministry of restoration, we will do well, and others will come to know the love and support of our loving Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s talk it over:
- What strengths has God equipped you with to help you minister to others?
- What difficulties have you faced in your life that could help you to bear the burdens of others with gentleness and love?
Lord Jesus, You have loved us and sought us each time we’ve gone astray. You sacrificed Yourself for us so that we would see Your worth and have hope to return to You. Lord, please help us to grow in the ministry of restoring others. Help us to recall when you have restored us and help us grow in humility to be of use to You. Amen.
Worship in Song:
Memory Passage: Galatians 5:22–24
 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (ESV)