Read Galatians 6:1-2
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
What does the way we treat a brother or sister who has sinned reveal about our hearts?
Unfortunately, we have seen this scenario play out numerous times in our culture. A Christian gets caught in sin and gets blasted by their fellow believers. They get shunned from the fellowship of people who were once their friends, they are fodder for gossip, and they get called out publicly and humiliated. Social media takes this to the next level.
Paul does not condone this type of response. Instead, he says that those of us who live by the Spirit, which should be all believers, should gently restore those who have sinned. Why? Because those of us who live by the Spirit should all be able to say, “I have been there and but for the grace of God, I would be there again.”
Sin is serious business, and we are not being asked to ignore it. But when we are cruel to our brothers and sisters in Christ because they have been tripped up by sin we are acting like legalists. We are also guilty of pride and hypocrisy. Legalists confront sin with a spirit of self-righteousness. After all, they would never commit such transgressions! But Jesus condemned this attitude of the legalists (the Pharisees) multiple times.
Rather, we should walk in the Spirit and approach the sins of our fellow believers with the spirit of restoration. The fact that we have received the love and grace of God ourselves should always be at the forefront of our minds. Humility should remind us that we have our own areas of weakness and that we, too, are capable of sin. In fact, Paul also advises that we be careful. Sin can be contagious. We need to be on guard so that we do not get caught up in sin ourselves.
Jude echoes this approach to dealing with the sins of others. In Jude 1:22 he says, “Be merciful to those who doubt, save others by snatching them from the fire, to others show mercy, mixed with fear-hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”
Friends, sin is not to be taken lightly, but it is meant to be dealt with gently. The way that we respond to the sins of our brothers and sisters reveals whether our hearts are being led by the law or the Spirit.
God, I know that I am capable of stumbling into sin myself. Keep me from sin and help me deal with the sins of others gently with the aim of restoration. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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