Tuesday, July 12, 2011
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.
Of all the tragedies that can happen within the church, I think the fractured relationships that believers have with one another is one of the very worst. Jesus had a special prayer (John 17) that was on His heart as he prepared to die for us. During His last night with His disciples before His arrest and crucifixion, He prayed for unity for them. His big concern was that they abide together around Him in unity. And I think the 21st century church often breaks the heart of Jesus.
Paul knew that big hindrance to unity was sin in the church. And he advised the Galatians to seek unity even as they dealt with a transgressor in the church. He assumed that people would be trapped by their sins (caught in a transgression) and that the church would need to wrestle through the implications of this sort of thing on a regular basis. But he warned the church to do so with two clear thoughts in mind.
The first was to to restore in a spirit of gentleness. The driving force of confronting sin is not to be judgmental and toss out the transgressor. The driving force is to see the sinner repent and for GRACE to win out in the life of the believer so that unity can be restored. Restoration is the goal of any confrontation over sin.
The second attitude was one of self-caution. But for the grace of God, the same sort of things could happen to any one of us. We must be mindful of our own heart and life before God. I could be the next person in need of restoring grace. And that should keep me humble. It is a wonderful source of unity in and of itself.
Our goal should be to humbly, gently, and in obedience confront sin in our own hearts and within the Body of Christ with a spirit of unity and restoration. That would make the church the kind of place that Jesus prayed for as He gave His life for us.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13