What should our attitude be when a fellow Christian stumbles? The apostle Paul shares some valuable insight.
- Read Galatians 6:1. What can you learn from this verse about helping someone who is in sin?
Helping a fellow believer back onto the right path is a glorious calling, but it's far from effortless. Let's look at several principles for restoration and their application to our lives.
A. Principles for Restoration
- Restoration is necessary but not easy.
The Greek word translated as "caught" in Galatians 6:1 can mean one of two things: the person either intended to sin or was taken by surprise. Whether or not the transgression was premeditated, Scripture says we are to "restore" the believer caught in sin.
The Greek term translated as "restore" also refers to setting a broken bone. Aiding someone burdened by sin is, likewise, a painful but important process.
- What might eventually happen if no one helps the person return to wholeness?
Galatians 6 gives the responsibility of restoration to those "who are spiritual." Before you disqualify yourself, remember that we all have weaknesses. Here's a quick test to determine if you're qualified to help others in this way:
- Is your life characterized more by the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) or the spirit (Gal. 5:22-25)?
- Restoration must be done with humility.
It's important never to have a haughty attitude. We are all susceptible to sin (Gal. 6:3-4).
- Summarize Romans 7:19-20.
- Imagine trying to restore a friend, but with the attitude that you're spiritually superior. How do you think that person would respond?
A hurting individual is already fragile. We should be careful not to convey condemnation or heap guilt on our friend (Rom. 8:1).
- Restoration involves shouldering another's burden.
Galatians 6:2 uses a word for burden that indicates a heavy load. In other words, Paul refers to a weight that would be impossible to carry alone.
In Galatians 6:5, Paul says that each person should carry his own load or burden. But this isn't a contradiction. The word "load" in this verse refers to a reasonable amount of responsibility that is expected of every individual. For example, a woman who has committed adultery has a "heavy burden." She will need counseling, emotional support, and intercession in order to be restored to the Lord and her husband. In contrast, every woman has a daily, reasonable duty to maintain purity in her thoughts and actions.
- Does Satan have you bound up in negative thoughts which cause destructive behavior? Have you incorrectly seen your "heavy burdens" as strictly your own responsibility?
- If so, what steps can you take to get some outside help in overcoming those burdens?
- Restoration should be done in love.
The apostle Paul was distressed about a man in the church at Corinth who had committed a sin. Initially, the church had failed to do anything about it. When they finally responded, Paul was concerned that they wouldn't restore him.
- What advice did he give them in 2 Corinthians 2:6-8?
- What do you think Paul meant when he said, "Such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow" (2 Cor. 2:7)?
B. Applying Restoration Principles
- Take the time to care and intervene.
- Do you know anyone who has fallen into sin and could use help getting back on track with God?
- What could you do to reach out to that person?
As the Spirit leads, you will need to intercede and possibly intervene.
- Let the other person's sin be a warning.
When someone else's wrongdoing is exposed, the Bible says to use that opportunity to examine yourself: check to see if you have an open door for that same temptation—even if it's just open a crack. If so, repent and ask God to protect you from falling into that sin.
Be cautious never to think, Well, I've never been tempted in that area. Satan will take full advantage of that prideful attitude.
- Why do you think pride opens a door for the Enemy?
Closing: Too often, believers struggle alone with the consequences of sin. Allow God to use you in a practical way. He longs to renew close fellowship with believers who are hurting, and you can play a vital role in the process.
Prayer: Father, thank You for being the God of second chances. Use me to minister to those who need help carrying a heavy burden. Remind me that apart from Your grace at work in my life, I could fall into temptation too. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Adapted from Charles Stanley's "Handbook for Christian Living" (1996).