Loving Those Who Are “Stuck” (Chris Francis)
One of our Big 7 Prayers for 2015 is:
5. That God would give us love for those whose sins offend us….and also the boldness to have awkward conversations to help each other grow.
Paul speaks to both parts of this prayer in Galatians 6.
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.
This “caught” is not about someone caught in the act of doing something naughty; it’s more the idea of being caught, like an animal in a trap, in a habitual sinful behavior or habitual sinful mindset. It has the idea of fallen, rather than a deliberate & planned sin.
If someone is stuck in something that is damaging to them, an area of their life that they are not trusting God with, that they can’t get out of, Paul says something must be done. What is it that must be done?
He says “you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” You who live by the Spirit — you who have been praying for that person, who are lead by the Holy Spirit, who are humble and compassionate. You must restore that person gently. They are not to be ignored. They are not to be excused. They are not to be enabled. They are not to be destroyed. They are not to be pushed away. They must be restored gently.
How to do this requires patience and compassion and wisdom. Hence, it requires “you who are spiritual.” In our flesh, we tend to either react too harshly or turn a blind eye to sin. We need the leading and guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit to restore our brothers and sisters who are caught in a sin.
But then Paul urges a warning – “watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” What is he talking about? I think he is talking about the temptation towards pride and self-righteousness. Because that is our tendency, isn’t it? To look down on those “caught in the sin.” To see them as our projects. To gossip about them. To be angry with them. To give up on them. To deem them not worth the effort.
But we must remember that without Christ, we are all stuck in our sins in every way, with no way out. If Jesus decided not to get involved, we would all be stuck on death row, waiting to pay for the penalty of our sins. If Jesus decided not to suffer for us, we would all be stuck in slavery to sin. If Jesus decided not to conquer death on our behalf, we would all be stuck in this dying world that is full of the presence of sin.
But Jesus did get involved. He did suffer for us. And he did conquer the grave. And so it should change everything about how we deal with others who are stuck.