Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
(a) Bear one another’s burdens is synonymous with the exhortation to love one another, for true love lifts and shares the load of others.
(b) The law of Christ is the Lord’s commandment to love one another (John 13:34). This law is sometimes referred to as “his commandment” (1 John 3:23) or a “new commandment” (1 John 2:8, 2 John 1:5). But it should not be viewed as a law in the sense of a rule that must be observed to avoid punishment. We are not under law but grace (Rom. 6:14).
We don’t love one another because God will punish us if we don’t. We love because God first loved us. Jesus said, “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34). As with everything in the new covenant, love starts with him, and as we receive from the abundance of the Father’s love we find ourselves loving others (see entry for 1 John 4:11).
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
Sowing and reaping is a universal principle; you reap what you sow. We can sow to the Spirit and reap life or we can sow to the flesh and reap destruction (see next verse).
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
(a) The one who sows to his own flesh. If we walk after the old way of the flesh, we will reap a bad harvest. Trusting in ourselves and relying on our own resources is an inferior way to live that often leads to disaster.
Further reading: ”How to walk after the flesh in 20 easy lessons”
(b) The one who sows to the Spirit. We sow to the Spirit by trusting what God has said and done. It’s putting our faith in Jesus and learning to rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When we lean on our own understanding, the result is often death and barrenness. But when we trust in the Lord, the result is abundant and eternal life.
(c) Eternal life describes the abundant fruit that results from living in union with Jesus; see entry for John 3:15.
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
(a) Let us not lose heart. Some use this verse to preach conditional salvation as in “you must do good every day of your life to reap eternal life.” But such a message causes us to lose heart and be discouraged, which is the opposite of Paul’s intention.
(b) In due time we will reap. The context is sowing and reaping: sow to the flesh and you cannot expect a good harvest, but sow to the spirit and you can – even if it does not immediately appear.
(c) If we do not grow weary. When we don’t see results, the temptation is to give up and throw in the towel. Our prayers seem to go unanswered. Our labor in the Lord seems to bear no fruit. Our trials seem endless. Don’t quit, says Paul. A good harvest is coming.
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
The household of faith. In the New Testament, believers are often referred to as the family or household of God (Matt. 12:50, Mark 3:35, John 11:52, 2 Cor. 6:18, Eph. 2:19, Gal. 3:26, 1 Pet. 4:17).
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