Bearing One Another's Burdens Lesson Plan


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Leader Guide February 18, 2018

Bearing One Another’s Burdens Sermon Text:​ Galatians 6:1-5 Study Texts:​ Romans 15:1-7 Sermon Recap​: In this week’s sermon text, we see Paul making direct application of the idea of freedom in Christ to the realities of Christian community. As a part of being in Christ, the Christian is given the Holy Spirit and all the benefits that come with His presence. A natural exercise of that gifting is true spiritual care and concern for others in the faith family. Paul says “​Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness​.” The Christian’s freedom in Christ is not freedom from all confines and concerns but ​freedom to​ holiness and Christlikeness. Therefore, one of the primary ways we exercise that inside the Church is by caring for and guarding one another against sin. Although we will each give an individual account to God for our own lives, we are also held accountable for the lives of our brothers and sisters in the faith. Sermon Connection:​ Just as we have seen so many times, Romans provides an excellent counterpart to Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches. In our study text of Rm. 15, Paul is dealing with the very issue of Gal. 6: Christians care for one another. Whereas the world tends toward self-satisfaction, self-betterment and success at all costs, the Christian is called to humble himself before the Lord, to put aside personal ambition, personal preference and even comfort for the sake of other Christians. In this text, Paul is calling upon those in the church who are spiritually mature to bear with and help the weaker brothers and sisters. We are not to only look after ourselves and our families. Rather, because God grants us His divine endurance and encouragement, we seek unity and harmony in the Church for the glory of God in the world. Sometimes this means putting aside ourselves, our preferences and our desires for the sake of a weaker believer. ​Sometimes it means letting others get their way in order to maintain unity​. We welcome one another for the glory of God!

Lesson Plan Lesson Goal: ​To see that true Christianity includes ​true concern​ for and ​submission​ to one another; we are to bear one another’s burdens for the glory of God.

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Lesson Points: Point 1: Christian Obligations ​(vv. 1-2) Point 2: The Example of Christ ​(vv. 3-4) Point 3: Harmony and Glory ​(vv. 5-7) The Context: ​Our study text picks up in the middle of an extended portion of application. Paul, having given an ample understanding of God and salvation, is now speaking of Christian duty and obligation. If the Church is to succeed, she must unite around Christ and not allow wordly differences to impede such. Thus, in chapter 14, Paul gives an extended discussion of submitting to one another in a multitude of situations for the sake of not offending one another’s faith, not impeding one another’s sanctification. Having noted these things, Paul begins chapter 15... Opening Question: ​Is your faith weak or strong; is it like a lion in a zoo who looks strong but has never been tested? OR are more like a palm tree; not very strong on your own but having a solid root structure and enduring many storms? Transition Statement: ​In the study text, Paul is dealing with strong and weak Christians. He is calling us to be mature in Jesus, to help one another, and to pursue the glory of God together...

Point 1 - Christian Obligations​ (vv. 1-2) What does Paul mean in saying, “​We who are strong...​”? What kind of strength is he referring to? The “strong” in this text refers to the spiritually mature among us. These are the ones who are walking with Jesus day-by-day, finding their life in Him; they are finding their joy in Him, and they are finding their contentment and fulfillment in Him. This does not mean that these strong ones are always the most knowledgeable about the Bible, and they are not always those in spiritual leadership. Many times, the strong ones are quiet, humble, submissive and tender. Paul’s use of strength is so counter-cultural to the world that we can often miss his meaning. Romans 13:14, the strong are those who “...​make no provision for the flesh…​” Romans 14:2, the strong are those who ​choose​ not to quarrel over opinions. Romans 14:8, the strong are those who realize they are the Lord’s. Romans 14:13, the strong are those who ​choose​ not to cause another to stumble. Romans 14:19, the strong are those who ​pursue​ mutual upbuilding. You should notice the spiritual nature of their strength and the discipline of their actions. The spiritually strong are ​actively seeking​ to build up the body of Christ... 2

Who are the weak? What is the nature of their failures and weakness? Understanding Paul’s usage of strength should give us insight into the weak and their failings. The weak are those among the body who make provision for the flesh (13:14); they embrace the world and often walk in its ways. The weak are those who quarrel over matters of opinions (14:2); they can get hung up and easily offended over matters that are truly unimportant and less than primary. The weak often forget they primarily belong to the Lord and are under His pleasure and sovereignty (14:8). The weak often fail to properly value the faith and conscience of another and can easily violate them (14:13). Finally, the weak are not actively pursuing the mutual upbuilding of the body of Christ (14:19); furthermore, the weak often actively contribute to its wounding through selfish ambition or preference. The primary failure of the weak, then, is a failure of spiritual maturity. Jesus deals with this in John 3:10, as does the writer of Hebrews (5:11-14). According to verse 1, what are the obligations of the strong? How does this help us further understand Galatians 6:1-2? The thrust of Paul’s point is not to identify the weak but to instruct the strong. The burden lies on the spiritually strong—the spiritually mature. The obligation to act, then, rests on them. It can be a temptation to think that because one is spiritually mature, others who are less mature should simply want to be like them, should cater to them, listen to them, obey them, etc. But this is not what Paul says (that attitude it actually quite worldly). Rather, the spiritually strong ​take on​ a attitude of humility and submission; they take up the failings of the weak—not joining them in their weakness— and walk with them into maturity. So, what does does bearing with the weak look like? It means pursuing holiness in your own personal life; it means subjecting your own opinions to others to avoid ​needless​ ​quarreling​; it means recognizing that the Lord is primary in all things and in every relationship; it means that there are times when personal freedoms are abstained from for the sake of another; and primarily, it means that spiritual strength is exercised for the sake of the building up of the Body of Christ. In Galatians 6, Paul says that the spiritually mature work for the restoration of fallen brothers and sisters to see them restored. What is the purpose/goal for which the strong bear with the weak (v. 2)? Why does this demand true Christian character? Knowing the characteristics of the spiritually strong is one thing, but understanding why they are they way they are is another. Paul provides both. Verse 2 reads, “​Let each of us please his neighbor​ for ​his​ good, to build him up.​” We note Paul’s language here and recognize the the neighbor is the object of this verse. Therefore, Paul has the spiritual well-being of the neighbor in mind or—to follow Paul’s line of reasoning—the weaker believer. If a Christian is 3

not mature and strong in the Lord, he/she will never care for and bear with the weaker brothers and sisters. This idea is quite similar to both Galatians 6 and 1 Cor. 9. Transition Statement: ​Having explained the duties and obligations of the mature Christians, Paul now brings our attention to Jesus as the foundation for those obligations... Point 2 - The Example of Christ​ (vv. 3-4) Paul wants to ensure we understand the God-centeredness of the instructions he is giving. How does verse 3 help us to understand Jesus? This is the first time in Romans where Paul holds Jesus up as an example to be followed. Jesus came and subjected Himself to the will of the Father, suffered at the hands of men, was killed, buried and raised—all this according to the Scriptures, as Paul reminds us (1 Cor. 15:2-3). And this is Who Paul says we should pattern our lives of faith after. Do we want to know what true spiritual strength looks like? We look to Jesus. Do we want to know what bearing with the weak looks like? We look to Jesus. Do we want to know how to put the flesh to death, avoid needless quarreling, protect our brothers and build them up? We look to Jesus... How does verse 3 better help us understand the call of Christianity (verses 1-2)? So, when we want to know exactly what Paul is telling us here, we consider Jesus. Mark 10:45 states that Jesus “​came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.​” We understand, then, that bearing with the spiritually weak is not only our Christian duty, it is the carrying out of the will of God; it is being identified with King Jesus, walking in His shoes and patterning our lives after His... How does Psalm 69:9 help us understand what is Paul saying about Jesus and the cross? How does it apply to our understanding of bearing with one another? Psalm 69 is a Messianic Psalm, meaning that it is about the coming Messiah. Jesus bore the reproach of people because He carried out the will of God. He willingly subjected Himself to suffering and hardship, at the hands of His own people, in order to glorify God and seek the good of those very people. Here is the heart of Paul’s message: “Paul would have us to realize that we are also to seek out the good of others, even if we are misunderstood or maligned in doing so.”1 Optional Question: How does verse 4 bring the entire Bible into the discussion?

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E. Harrison, ​The Expositors Commentary​, 214.

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Verse 4 highlights the whole-Bible nature of what Paul is saying. He is, here again, using a redemptive-historical hermeneutic.2 Psalm 69 is not only prophesying about Christ, it is instructing us how to faithfully follow Him; Paul is affirming his statement in 2 Tim. 3:16, that all Scripture is from God and entirely useful, and as 119:50 reminds us, the Word is divinely useful for any and every situation. exhorting Transition Statement: ​Having explained the duty and obligations of Christian maturity, and having given the example of Jesus, Paul now closes this section by giving some application and motivation for bearing with the weak... Point 3 - Harmony and Glory​ (vv. 5-7) How do the divine attributes of endurance and encouragement factor into this discussion? Serious reflection upon any of God’s divine attributes will create in us a sense of awe, humility, wonder and love. He is far above and away from anything in us or anything in the world. He is God Almighty! And here, Paul calls upon the Lord’s faithful endurance and encouragement as motivation for unity in the Church. Paul’s reference to God’s endurance and encouragement shows that this call to maturity is spiritual in nature; it is an operation of the Spirit working in the hearts of Christians and Christians faithfully obeying and living unto the glory of God. According to verse 5, can peace and harmony be obtained by our own efforts? Yes and no. We should recognize the assumed obedience in the text: Paul assumes that those who are spiritually strong will seek harmony and unity. But, we also recognize that without the guiding and gifting of the Holy Spirit, this harmony and unity will be unattainable. How does verse 5 help us to better understand Christian community? What does it look like? We never get a complete glimpse or picture of Christian community from one biblical text. Rather, we glean many characteristics about it from numerous texts. Here, we see that unity around the gospel is of first importance for true Christian community. This means that where Christ reigns supreme in the hearts of His people, personal preferences, aspirations and the like will be ​set aside​ for the sake of “​harmony with one another​.” Christian community looks like the spiritually strong bearing with the weak. We this here in Romans 15 and also in Galatians 6:2. According to verse 6, what is the highest motivation and goal for bearing with one another? Why should the strong bear with the weak? To what end? For what gain? ​Christ! His glory in the earth! His glory among the peoples!​ Paul is unquestionably clear in this verse. The This phrase means that Paul was reading and understanding the Bible ​through the lens​ of the gospel. On this side of the cross, we are able to more fully understand all that God was doing throughout redemptive history by means of the cross. 2

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hope of the Christian is to glorify God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, but the spiritually mature see this as motivation to bear with the weak. They see the magnificence of God’s glory as worth far more than the success of their own preferences or even the enjoyment of their own freedoms. In Galatians 6:3, Paul writes, “​For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”​ Paul has come to see the lowliness and submission of spiritual maturity. Just as Christ humbled Himself and took on the will of the Father for the glory of God, so we too who are strong must do the same... Having heard and seen all of this, what does Paul mean, “​Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God​”? Being a good teacher, Paul wants to remind us of what he has just said; he wants to make sure we comprehend the message. By “​welcome one another,​” he is reiterating the same phrase in 14:1, but it is now applied to all. He is saying that we must put aside differences, preferences, freedoms and pride for the sake of Christ. Did Jesus cling to His position of honor when faced with the cross? No, “...​but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient…​” (Phil. 2:7-8) The Big Picture Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a 20th Century German pastor/theologian and martyr once said, “...Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God (Rm. 15:7). Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other everyday from the bottom of your hearts.” This is a fitting summation of all that we have studied. It is a dishonor to the name of Christ when we put ourselves before our brothers and sisters. Praise be to God that through Christ, we are able to see past ourselves, to put aside our own worldly sinfulness and give ourselves for the sake of others, patterning our lives after King Jesus. Amen! Application Questions ● Based on this text, are you spiritually strong or weak? Explain… ● How can you see the example of Christ’s humility playing out in your life and home? ● Has your view of ​Christian welcome​ changed? How? ● How is your growth group welcoming one another for the glory of God? ● In what ways can your group improve and mature concerning helping the spiritually weak?

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