Thursday, January 28, 2010

Galatians Journal: Chapter 6, verse 10

Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Verse 10 serves to sum up what Paul has been discussing in the previous 9 or 10 verses. All of his advice and instruction in Chapter 6 so far has been in the context of community – of RELATIONSHIPS. We are to have a proper view of ourselves and a humble attitude regarding our own importance (5:26, 6:3-5). We are to selflessly relate to and serve the immature or developing believer, serving them and leading them to maturity and right relationship with God and others. (6:1-2). We are to serve and support those in authority or in the teaching ministry, and give generously. (6:6). The most important discussion on sowing and reaping (6:7-8) is placed in the context of “doing good.” (6:9), which , in turn, runs into and is placed in the context of this verse, doing “good to all people.” Christians cannot exist in isolation. There is a God ordained purpose in the relationship to the body of Christ – other Christians – and to the rest of society.

“Therefore, as we have the opportunity” At first blush, this seems like Paul is encouraging us to take advantage of the possibility – sort of like this is an option, an occasion, like a chance to invest money or open a business or something. But the word for “opportunity” here is more specific than that, and much more urgent. It literally means “due measure” and it implies a fixed, definite time, like an appointment. It is used to describe a time when things come to a crisis, or the decisive time that people have waited for, i.e. the end of the world, or the return of Christ. It is literally the “right time,” the opportune time, the seasonal time. It is also a limited time – the opportunity is not open, we must act now. In the context of the previous discussion on sowing and reaping, farming, and agriculture, there is a time to plant and a time to harvest. Both are limited windows of opportunity, and must be accomplished before that window closes. The bottom line – this is not an optional opportunity, but it is an extremely urgent one. We must act, and act now!

“let us do good to all people” The Greek word translated here as “all people” implies a cross section of society – some of all types. This is a divine form of “political correctness.” We must do good to every sub-set of society. We can’t play favorites. This is the exact opposite of the message of the Judiazers, who demanded favoritism for Jews and Jewish custom. This is the issue that divides us today – we need to lay down our expectations regarding culture and ethnicity, especially when it comes to denominational or church “culture” in reaching out to others.

“especially to those who belong to the family of God.” The “death” of our traditional expectations is particularly true here. Notice that Paul didn’t say “church,” he said “family.” We need to define the way we view our ties to each other believers by “relationship,” not by particular doctrine or church culture. The King James Version translates this as “household,” and its literally what the original Greek word means. 1 Timothy 5:8 warns that a person who doesn’t take care of his own relatives and immediate family is like an unbeliever. But don’t fall into the trap that Paul has spent the entire book railing against. Blood and culture, in the context of who we consider to be part of the “family” of God is the wrong identification method. When Paul says “especially the family of believers,” he means those who believe in the promise, regardless of culture. The command here is to get beyond skin color, language, worship style, musical tradition, even doctrines involving “disputable matters.” (see Romans 14:1). We must get beyond what traditionally defined us, and stop defining who belongs to the “family” by the outward indications, like the Judiazers did. This is the message of the Holy Spirit – we need to plant our seed there, and seize this urgent opportunity. To do otherwise is to miss what God is saying altogether.

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