Today is the second day of week 5, reading the Bible through together in a year. Today's scriptures are Exodus 4-6 and Galatians 6.
Today, I want to focus on Galatians 6:1-5, which says:
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. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.
Here, Paul is talking about the way to confront a fellow Christian, if you think that they have committed a transgression. (Note, confrontation isn't necessary if someone simply differs from you in opinion, or if they aren't doing things the way you'd like them to be done.) If a fellow believer is caught in a transgression (sin), then spiritual believers (not just anyone who calls themselves a Christian) should approach the person to deal with it. The spiritual believers who are dealing with the issue should take care that they keep an attitude of restoration and gentleness, rather than judgment or condemnation. The emphasis should be on repairing that which is broken, and not eliminating the transgressor from fellowship.
Paul also gives warning that those who intervene should be very careful, for two reasons. First, they should be careful that they don't fall into temptation themselves. For example, nobody who has a gambling problem should follow a gambling addict into a casino in order to have an intervention. Be careful, if an intervention is necessary, that the intervening friends don't share the same problem as the one who receives the intervention.
Second, Christians should take care that they don't think that they are "something" when they are "nothing," deceiving themselves. In other words, it's easy, if you are trying to restore someone who has fallen, to think of yourself as someone who is in a superior position. You have the moral high ground, while the other person is a "sinner." Paul reminds each of us that we are nothing, and that none of us has any righteousness of our own apart from Christ.
Many people have trouble reconciling verse 2, "Bear one another's burdens," with verse 5, "For each will have to bear his own load." I believe this means that while we need to help one another with our journeys of faith, bearing one another up along the way, ultimately each of us will still be responsible for himself or herself when we stand before the judgment throne of God. Take care of each other, while realizing that if you've fulfilled your obligation, ultimately their success or failure is their own.
Today I wonder, is there any area of your life where people who love you have tried to bring restoration? Did you reject them, or accept their admonitions as from the Lord? Are there people in your life who need your words of advice and wisdom? Through His Word, God reminds you today to be gentle and restorative in your approach, and not judgmental and condemning. And remember that confrontation is only necessary when there's a transgression, and not simply because you don't see things eye to eye.
For each of you, I pray as Paul did, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen (Gal 6:18 ESV)."