Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.Galatians 6:1 esv
What do you say to another Christian when they are engaged in a behavior that is sinful according to the scriptures? How do you act toward them when their behavior is that which 42 wants them to avoid?
Let’s try something; take sin out of the equation for a moment and replace it with assembling a piece of furniture. How would you feel if someone sat and watched you assemble a kitchen chair knowing full well that the moment you sat on it the thing would fall apart and you would end up crashing down on your backside? Same task, but that certain someone kept belittling or yelling at you that you are wrong and worthless? Worse yet, they walk away in disgust and avoid you even though they know you are going to end up on your backside and could get hurt? Lastly, what if they actually encourage you to assemble it incorrectly?! How would you feel?
Instead of letting you fall on your backside, what if the person took the time to gently and lovingly explain your mistake, and the worked alongside you to assure that the chair would stand on its own and support your weight? What if they related to you that they too have assembled chairs in many incorrect ways, and that someone who cared for them helped figure it out? Wouldn’t you be more apt to do the same for others?
In this morning’s scripture, Paul is speaking of friendship, accountability and love. If you see a sister or brother in Christ engaging in a behavior that scripture calls out as contrary to God’s will, would you just sit and watch them do it? Or would you belittle them, scream at them, or walk away disgusted and stop talking with them? Would you encourage them to keep engaging in that behavior and maybe even join them?
Paul says that you need to gently “restore” them to the correct course. He also adds the caveat of paying attention to your own behavior, temptations, and past while doing that. He tells us to keep ourselves from slipping into sin while loving others. Now where have I heard that before….
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.Jesus; The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:1-5 esv)
It is the Master Carpenter who’s gentle words of love, compassion, and gentleness helped you recognize the paths you took that miss the mark, and it is his Spirit that gently nudges you in the the direction that points always to 42!