Every Tuesday in August, ELCA pastors and leaders are sharing contemplative prompts for reflection and meditation. Today, Margarette Ouji, pastor of First Lutheran Church in Montclair, N.J., shares their thoughts on Galatians 6:1-3.
Living Lutheran: What does this passage mean in context?
Ouji: Galatians 6:1-3 says: “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. Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves.”
In Chapter 6 of Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia, he clarifies his message by reminding the people who have just received the Spirit of the importance of caring for one another. He uses words such as “gentleness” and “burdens” when offering instruction on how to be in relationship with one another. Paul warns his readers against the temptation to place ourselves above another, thinking we are better than another.
What does this mean for the modern world? What can we learn from this?
In a world distracted by scrolling, dopamine chasing and emotional numbing, it can feel tempting to engage in what is commonly known as “cancel culture.” We quickly cast someone aside for not being “correct” instead of inviting someone in to have a conversation and to be in relationship. This is a symptom of valuing individualism and self-reliance above community care and mutual aid.
Can you share a meditation, prayer or journal prompt inspired by this Scripture?
What does it mean to bear one another’s burdens? What does individual and communal healing look like? I invite you to receive this prayer:
I have received the gift of the Spirit. Give me a discerning heart so that I may care for my siblings, bearing their burdens while caring for myself. You alone know my heart, my hopes and my fears. Help me not to get lost in my righteousness, and when I do, because I will, guide me back to you. Help me and my community lean toward caring for one another, not as individuals, but as neighbors and siblings in Christ. Help us to be gentle with one another’s woundedness. Make available to us, God, the resources needed to care for one another well. Bring to light the corruption of systems that would limit access to those resources, and guide leaders to move from a place of scarcity to feelings of abundance. Finally, God, give me a gentle heart., that softness may wash over me and that I may serve you and please you in all that I do. Amen.