Those who have received the Spirit must live in gentleness and bear one another’s burdens.
After listing the virtues of the fruit of the Spirit (5:22-23), A Christian missionary who once persecuted the church More goes on to illustrate what those virtues look like in the context of the Galatians’ community. In this passage, Paul emphasizes two aspects of life in the Spirit, one centered around self-awareness and the other on care for fellow members of “the family of faith” (6:10).
Paul frames the work of the Spirit with two illustrations of how it leads to care for fellow members of the community. Community care begins with restoring those who commit transgressions with gentleness (6:1). This restoration is an act of “bearing one another’s burdens” (6:2) and it culminates in “working for the good of all” (6:10). In between this frame of caring for others, Paul warns the Galatians about maintaining proper self-awareness. Those who the Spirit leads do not think too highly of themselves and test their own works so that they can carry their own load (6:2-6:5). His emphasis on self-awareness leads him to caution the Galatians against self-deception. God will not be mocked and, using a familiar metaphor of sowing and harvest, Paul warns the Galatians that their relationship to the flesh and the Spirit will be revealed in the end (6:7-8).
Though Paul deals with the results of individual “sowing” and “harvest,” his framing shows that his concern is for the life of the community. Paul sees his opponents as promoting division and individual gain (5:26) and in describing life in the Spirit, he seeks to counteract that influence through a picture of a family that bears one another’s burdens.