Dear Morning Devotion Group – After our study of Galatians I am going to be using my morning devotion posts to share thoughts from a book I am writing on the subject of “faith.” No, I have not been approached by a major publishing house. And this will be much different from the children’s stories I also enjoy writing. It’s just that I have a perspective on faith I am compelled to put on paper and I don’t have the extra time it would require to record it. So I hope you will allow me the opportunity to use this forum as a workspace. I hope you enjoy it. The new study should begin by next Thursday. Blessings, Larry
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. (Galatians 6:1-5 NIV)
So, if we are saved by grace, and not a perfect adherence to the law, and if our faith is not a vehicle for arrogant self-righteousness, how does this affect the way we view our brothers and sisters in Christ?
We do it with humility. “If anyone things he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
Realize, Paul isn’t attempting to discourage or demean his readers here. In fact, in our passage he also says, “Then he can take pride in himself” in reference to our ability to evaluate our own actions.
The problem comes when we forget our own personal battle with sin, and judge others more harshly than we are judging ourselves. As brothers and sisters in Christ we are all striving for the same thing and fighting a common enemy. Our goal is to overcome Satan’s plans for us and help others do the same. Then everyone wins!
We can see how this is different from an atmosphere where people are comparing one another against the perfect law and proclaiming self-righteousness. When we try to please God with self-righteousness, it is “every man for his self.” When we live by the Spirit, we want to present everyone perfect in Christ. We also want His church to glow with the Spirit as it reflects His image in everything.
Therefore, when someone is caught in a sin, what should we do? In Matthew 18 Jesus gives us some instructions on a process for resolving conflict that works well here. We go to the person privately and confront their sin. If they refuse to listen (which is often the case since all of us are masters of denial), then we should take one or two witnesses with us to strengthen our confrontation. As a last resort, we should ask others in the church to help us.
If those who are caught in a sin refuse to be honest with themselves and others, things get complicated. In fact, sometimes church families have to put boundaries in place to protect innocent people from those who refuse to accept responsibility for their actions.
But ideally, those who are sinning will accept the direction of brothers and sisters in Christ, allowing them to be gently restored. Thus, the process requires two things: humility on the part of others as they help those who have sinned through their struggles, and humility on the part of the sinner as he allows God to work through His Word and His people.
Certainly none of this is possible when we live with a delusion of our own self-righteousness.
Dear God, keep me focused on Your Spirit that works in me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.