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)
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 (NIV)
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Here's a question to get you thinking. When's the last time you realized someone else was wrong? What about the last time you realized you were wrong? The reality is that you and I live in a broken world, which means none of us get it right 100% of the time. All of us have moments when we fall short. All of us have moments when we're wrong. In other words, following Jesus isn't about rituals and perfection; it's about rhythms of confession. Regular patterns of confession and repentance should mark the Christian life.
The problem, however, is that you and I are often unaware of our sin. Other times, we are aware of our sin but would rather keep it hidden. The default of your heart and mine is to keep our sins secret and make our righteousness public. And yet, when Jesus taught, he said to make your sins public and keep your righteousness secret. He taught us that to follow him means we walk in the light, and we walk in community. So what happens when you or someone in your community sins?
The Apostle Paul actually gives us the answer in Galatians 6:1. He says, "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted (Galatians 6:1 NIV)."
In other words, when you and I see someone living in sin, we are responsible for moving toward them. Our job as believers is to restore them. Notice that gentleness is the primary attitude we should have when doing this. But if you're anything like me, that's really hard. Typically, my first response isn't gentleness; it's gossip. It's way easier to talk about someone behind their back than to move toward them in their brokenness.
And yet, the reality of the gospel is that this is what Jesus did for you and me. He saw us in our brokenness and moved towards us in gentleness. Think of the woman caught in adultery. Do you remember the way Jesus respond to her? He didn't overlook her sin, nor was he harsh with her. Instead, he said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more (John 8:11)." He was gentle with her and yet called her to holy living. No condemnation. Go and sin no more. He was tough and tender, mighty and meek, full of conviction and kind towards sinners.
He's calling you and me to embody the same attitude. If your theological convictions don't produce gentleness, you should repent and start over. This is not weak, flimsy gentleness; it requires courage. He is calling us to move towards broken and messy situations with gentleness. I hope that this week you and I will have the courage to restore our friends and family with a spirit of gentleness.
Written By: Nick Harsh
Nick Harsh (MDiv, Clarks Summit University) is a ministry leader with The Salt Company, a ministry of Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. While publishing regularly at nickharsh.com, his writing has also been featured at The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Relevant Magazine.