“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.”
Society has fully embraced a philosophy of “do whatever makes you happy.” As long as you claim to be doing what makes you happy, it makes you more or less justified in the eyes of the world. Sin isn’t seen as sinful as long as it is committed in the pursuit of happiness. For example, no one would think twice if I said, “I just want to save up my money for a few years until I have plenty in the bank before I start thinking about giving anything to charity.” To the world, self-preservation is a perfectly noble pursuit. To put yourself first is not just ok, it’s promoted.
We hear the words “treat yourself” and “follow your heart” so often that they might as well be cultural doctrine. It is this attitude that has made us Christians forget the art of restoring our brothers and sisters who are found in sin.
What exactly does that mean? Well basically, Paul is saying that if anyone is found to be struggling with sin, it should be made clear to them that their actions are contrary to God’s will, that they need to repent. Basically, we need to call out each other’s sin. No, that doesn’t mean judge or condemn. It certainly doesn’t mean to shame or embarrass anyone. It means holding each other accountable to the commands of Jesus. The key, as Paul writes, is gentleness. Fighting a losing battle against sin can be emotionally draining, it can wear down your self-esteem, make you feel unworthy, unforgivable, unlovable. It puts us in a vulnerable state. No one in that place needs to be approached with harsh words or anger or condemnation, but with gentleness, compassion, mercy, and grace.
Don’t go looking for sin in others’ lives just for the sake of correcting and calling them out. That’s not the point at all. The point is that we ought to care about each other’s soul and spiritual wellbeing enough to help a brother or sister out of a struggle with sin.
Please note that this is targeted to other believers in Christ. We have no place going around correcting non-believers. They are only doing what should be expected of someone who doesn’t know Christ. We cannot hold them to the standard of a Christ follower if they are not one. We should, however, always share the good news of Christ with them and disciple them to faith in Christ. It is at that point that we begin to correct and restore behavior, not before.
Take care of each other. Look out for your brothers and sisters. Don’t go looking for sins to call out simply to embarrass or put down a neighbor, but be alert for those who need help, who need love and grace, who need restoration. Find them and help them to repent and restore their lives. It is our duty to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
We thank you for the love and mercy you show us on a daily basis. I pray that we would have the strength to extend those to our neighbors when we find them caught in sin, as we hope they would for us. I pray that you give us the boldness to reject the “do whatever makes you happy” culture, and instead call out sin for what it is, but with gentleness, in order to bring about restoration.
In Jesus’ Name,