Today’s Reading — 6:1,2 — Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Church should be the best place to fall to sin, but too often it is not. We in the church have an understanding of sin’s origin, its ability to subtly overpower the flesh, its provoker Satan, and its powerlessness to destroy us when we are in Christ. When we see another Christian fall to sin, we have three primary Christian responsibilities.
We should never ignore sin in our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is far easier to look the other way or to wait for someone else to recognize the offense and do something about it. We are known by the secular world as hypocrites because we are. We live in the constant tension between the high level Christ is calling us to and the lower level where our flesh is content. We will always deal with the hypocrisy that appears when we have proven by our own tongue that we know far better than to do what we find ourselves doing. We sometimes ignore sin because we prefer it when ours is ignored. It is the duty of love to confront sin. Never ignore sin. If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. (Matthew 18:15)
We should never excuse sin in our brothers and sisters. We are trained apologists for our own sin, and we often excuse the sin of others, hoping for the same gentle treatment in return. Sin is not gentle, it is destructive. If a church leader has an anger problem that is allowed to continue unconfronted and excused, the devil’s deep wounding weapon — anger – will damage hearts and relationship and allow fear based response replace love based response. Such it is with all sin. Left unattended, it will reap destruction in our flock. Never excuse sin. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. (John 15:22)
We should never destroy sinners just because they have sinned. This is a great problem in our churches. Our hypocrisy and feigned piety,combined with a greater value placed on what people outside the love of Christ will think, lead us to distance ourselves from those who have fallen to sin. We gossip where we should be counseling, and destroy where we should be restoring. Even when we have had to remove leadership responsibilities, even when the sinner remains unrepentant, we have a never ending and perhaps ever incre asing responsibility to continue to reach for them in love, even in the midst of church discipline. Our offer of restoration should never be withdrawn. If we allow the magnitude or quantity of sin to identify a person as unredeemable, then our Redeemer is presented as limited when in fact He is not. Never destroy a sinner just because they have fallen to sin. He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her. (John 8:7)
Restoration should always be our endgame when confronting sin in a brother or sister. If we present ourselves as so hardened to anyone who sins as to set their usefulness to God aside, we label ourselves equally as useless. Luther said this — If we carefully weigh the words of the Apostle we perceive that he does not speak of doctrinal faults and errors, but of much lesser faults by which a person is overtaken through the weakness of his flesh. This explains why the Apostle chooses the softer term ‘fault.’ To minimize the offense still more, as if he meant to excuse it altogether and to take the whole blame away from the person who has committed the fault, he speaks of him as having been ‘overtaken,’ seduced by the devil and of the flesh . . . This comforting sentence at one time saved my life.
Stand with your friends when they fall to sin. Stand in gentleness , like our gentle Savior, affirming both the Grace of God and His demand for obedience to all He has commanded. Never fall to the deception that someone is too far gone to be carried back and restored by Christ. Always seek restoration, the way the Lord sought to restore you as He pursued you with His love. Too often we opt for limited or no restoration, basing our response on what we think the sinner deserves. We must be vessels of His Mercy (mercy — when we don’t get what we do deserve) and His Grace (grace — when we do get what we don’t deserve). Never resort to secular standards of mercy and grace that bar heavens gate with unattainable faux piety. Christian Love confronts sin, stands with the sinner in their trial, and encourages them with God’s perpetual offer of restoration. …..and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Who can you help the Lord lead back today? Who have you written off because they have fallen to sin? Who have you offered far less Grace than you have received from God? Who do you know who needs loving restoration today?
Copyrigh t 2008 © Stephen Faulkner and Mission of the Master Ministries, Inc. OnemanofGod88@aol.com