“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2
A few years ago a friend of mine joined the staff of a large and growing church. He had admired and respected the senior pastor of that particular church for years and thought that he had almost made it to heaven when he became a part of the staff. The next time I saw him I asked, “Hey, man, what’s it like to work there?” His response was encouraging.
“It’s great,” he said. “The thing that is so remarkable to me is that when we’re in staff meetings and a problem comes up, our senior pastor always says, ‘What can we do to help?’”
Sadly, that’s not always our first response when we encounter trouble in the life of someone else, especially when it’s the result of sin.
It’s easy to want to blow off the problem so that we don’t have to get involved in it. We usually feel that we have enough burdens of our own and don’t need anyone else’s. Which makes it easy to respond with gossipy criticism like, “I knew it! That person has been headed for disaster for years.” Or we can’t wait to tell someone about the struggles of another, anxious to affirm our own self worth through a juicy tale or two. Other times our response is even more sinister. We give vent to a sense of self-righteous judgment: “That’s unbelievable! I certainly would never do that!”
Why is it that seeing trouble in the lives of others so often gives way to a sense of religious superiority as we draw the conclusion that we are somehow more worthy and less in need of grace than the person in the ditch? It’s so easy to forget that as rebellious, disobedient people, none of us deserves God’s favor and blessing.
We can’t miss what Paul is saying here. He gently reminds the Galatians that the responsibility of the believer, when faced with a sin-snared life, is to “restore.” Pause here for a moment. Paul doesn’t say to “condemn.” Paul doesn’t say, “Preach against.” He doesn’t say, “Tell someone else.” Rather, he tells us to “restore.” In fact, he tells us how to restore—“gently.”
When a friend, loved one, family member, or fellow Christian is snared in sin, the first thing that should be on our lips is, “How can I help?”
Paul goes on to remind us that we are all in need of grace—that we must be on guard, as well, against the same snares that entangle others. He also reminds us that “carrying one another’s burdens” is part and parcel of what it means to live as a Christ-follower. Sin struggles in the life of a fellow believer are not a “them” issue, they are an “us” issue, as we come alongside and gently restore each other to the joy of walking in Christ’s light.
That’s why my friend’s senior pastor impresses me so much. His response to the problems people face in his church is Christlike. Instead of responding with feelings of criticism or pronouncements of theological judgment, he responds with compassion—“What can we do to help?” It’s that kind of response that paves the way for God’s glory to be displayed. When God’s people intersect troubled lives with compassionate action, it leaves behind irrefutable testimonies of Christ’s transforming work.
Chances are some family member, friend, or co-worker in your life is in trouble. These situations are prime opportunities for the glory of a rescuing God to be displayed through your life. All you have to do is ask the question, “What can I do to help?”
- Has this lesson brought to mind a particular sin that has ensnared you? Who are some trusted friends in Christ that can help you bear this burden and “restore you gently”? Turn today toward the freedom and joy that Christ offers in setting you free!
- Are there people in your life who are caught in sin? What has been your response? Has your attitude toward these individuals been Christlike, or has it reflected self-righteousness and pride?
- Ask the Lord to give you a heart of compassion in each of the situations that you have identified. Then consider asking the individuals what you can do to help them. Pray that God’s glory would be seen in your response!