Although we realise we are not perfect, that we all have struggles in life, sometimes we act as if we don’t. Sometimes this is seen in the way we treat those who have been caught in a sin or are known to struggle with a particular temptation in their lives. How we deal with this is a reflection on Jesus our master and is evidence of the Spirit who lives in us.
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1 NIV)
Paul wrote this to the Christians in Galatia, people who were struggling with accepting each other on the basis of Jesus and not because of their background. The case in point is that someone has been caught in a sin. How are we, as Christians, to deal with this?
Those who live by the Spirit, who are allowing the Spirit of God to influence their lives, need to be there to help and bring the person back to serving Jesus. But notice how they are to do this: gently. I believe we realise the necessity of dealing with people gently. Too often we see people dealing with each other harshly and demand severe punishment on the person caught in a sin. This can lead to someone becoming stubborn and refusing to change. While we cannot condone sinful activity, the admonition of the Lord’s apostle is that we are to treat those caught in sin gently.
Paul had already explained to them the character of someone who is living by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). This person is producing the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ in their lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Notice that ‘gentleness’ is listed as part of the fruit that the Spirit will produce in our lives.
But there is caution here, as well. As we seek to help others we cannot forget to look to ourselves or we could also be tempted. Paul doesn’t elaborate on what these temptations might be – I suspect they may be different for each person. But we can make general applications that apply to us all.
By helping someone deal with a specific sin we, too, could be tempted with what they have been involved in. Just a few sentences earlier Paul had reminded Christians, after listing ‘the fruit of the Spirit’, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). We must always be on guard against temptation.
Paul also reminded them, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:26). There could be a temptation to look down on those who are caught up in a sin and consider ourselves ‘better’ than they are. But when we think this way we are overlooking the struggles that we have in our lives. We must always remember that all struggle as Christians and we are to be there to help each other.
When you see the attributes of a Spirit-filled Christian, isn’t this the type of person you would want to help you correct any sin and problems you have in your life? If this is who we would want to help us, then strive to be this type of person for other people! Be there to help those who are struggling – and isn’t that each one of us at times?! As we strengthen others then they will be there to strengthen us. Be helping each other we show that we are living by the Spirit and serving Jesus our master.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
Photo by Jane Bo from pixabay.com
Readings for next week: Galatians 1-6; James 1-2