by Jeff Curtis
Paul admonished the brethren is Galatia, “Let us not grow weary while doing good” (Galatians 6:9). There are always difficulties to overcome and always to confront us, both in the world and in the church. Just as it was two thousand years ago when he wrote this letter, so it is today.
Adversaries then questioned Paul’s authority as an apostle, and certain theologians today do the same thing. They argue that, when he was writing his epistles, he had no idea that he was writing inspired Scripture. Instead, they say, he was trying to pacify local flocks of his “sheep’ to prevent their being led astray by their Jewish brethren. They assert that Paul was writing so that Jewish and Gentile Christians would get along with one another.
Such views are in error. For Paul, doctrine really did matter. The compromise of revealed truth is never an acceptable solution. When truth is compromised, it is usually at the expense of the most faithful brethren who “lose heart” and become discouraged. When truth isn’t accepted as truth, the authority of Christ suffers and the power of the Holy Spirit is quenched.
Also, Paul was aware that his writings were inspired of God (Gal. 1:11-12; 1Cor. 14:37-38). Peter shared the same viewpoint (2Peter 3:14-16). Error on any scriptural truth should not be taken lightly; but any preacher, teacher, professor theologian or elder who denies the inspiration of the Scriptures is guilt of more than a single mistake. This kind of denial is a systematic error, and anyone who promotes it should be marked as a false teacher. Note what Paul wrote to the young preacher Timothy; “5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from [a]sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.” (1Tim. 1:5-7).
To “do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:10) is a manifold admonition that forbids segregation or favoritism on the grounds of race, gender or economic status. When helping others, Christians should make sure that members of the Lord’s church are taken care of first. In social relationships, the Christian or to an unbeliever – even if it requires foregoing one’s own privileges.
It was not a small feat for the early Christians, even with the help of the Holy Spirit, to blend the religious backgrounds and cultural norms of the politically dominant Roman government, the culturally superior Greeks, and the religiously and morally superior Jews of the first century. All these were brought together by the Spirit in local groups (congregations) capable of meaningful fellowship with each other. Obviously, this required great sacrifice on the part of all who were involved. Head coverings, clean and unclean foods sacrificed to idols were some of the issues that required attention and careful consideration.
At the time Paul was writing his early letters, it must have been difficult to unite converts from three major cultures. Being the devoted disciple that he was, Paul persevered. In time, he succeeded in establishing several ethnically diverse congregations that not only accepted one another but also helped one another. From his own writings as well as Acts, we see predominantly Gentile churches in Greece, Macedonia, and Asia Minor giving generously to the poor of the Jewish Christians in Palestine.