Wednesday, 8 June 2016
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Galatians 6:1
Paul’s letter to the Galatians now reaches its final chapter with words of admonition which are immensely valuable to pay heed to. He begins with the word “Brethren…” in order to set the tone. He is speaking to his beloved brethren in Galatia, but his words include even us today who are a part of the same body. The heartfelt nature of the address is intended to elicit continued harmony. As he is speaking to fellow Christians, the words imply that the action they are to take also involves fellow Christians.
It is in this context that he says, “…if a man is overtaken in any trespass.” The idea of being overtaken does not include someone who is living in sin, or is prone to returning to some old sin. In such a case, that person is to be properly disciplined, rebuked, or even ex-communicated. For such a one, the circumstance would dictate the punishment. Rather, this is speaking of another brother who simply falls into some sort of temptation and fails to resist it.
At such a time, Paul tells them that, “…you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” The one who is spiritual is speaking of the one who is guided by the Spirit of God. His conduct is explained in Galatians 5:16-18 and defined by the fruits mentioned in Galatians 5:22-25. One of those fruits is actually referred to by Paul now; gentleness. As the individual is guided by the Spirit, they should possess that fruit in some measure. Paul asks them (and thus us) to depend on this trait when dealing with such a brother.
There is an especially important reason for this too. We should each carefully consider ourselves lest we also become tempted. In other words, none of us are above falling into temptation. If we harshly treat a brother who has been overcome by sin, when our time inevitably comes, there will be at least two repercussions that we will face for that harsh treatment:
- We will be disgraced because of our own haughty attitude. Our arrogance will be on more prominent display.
- We may receive the same treatment from our fallen brother because of the sad precedent we set.
Paul, always thinking ahead, wants to preempt the pain and suffering that comes from unclear reasoning concerning our state as Christians.
Life application: If we harshly treat a brother who has fallen, we may very well ruin a friendship for no good reason. How much better it is to empathize with other’s failings and do our best to maintain sound and friendly relations with those around us who have called on Christ.
Lord God, help us to have hearts of humility toward others. Help us to have empathy for their failings. Each of us is prone to temptation, and when we fall we would hope for the same kind words of restoration that we should be giving out when those around us slip and fall as well. Keep us from haughty arrogance and help us to be caring towards those who are just as human as we are. Grant us this ability, O God. Amen.