Galatians 6:1-2 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
During a high school football game a play was called that I could not remember. As a lineman I knew my job was to drive my opponent out of the way for the ball carrier — but which way? When the ball was put in motion, I hesitated — then drove my opponent into the path of the man running the ball! Oops!
Well, Saturday mornings were special times for the team: we reviewed the game film from the night before! When my play came up, the coach caught my hesitation on film, played it back a couple of times, sighed heavily and in front of the team said, “Pucik, if you’re going to make a mistake, do it 100%!”
Not very encouraging, but it was a lesson I never forgot.
Paul points out for us that in church we will encounter believers who have blown it spiritually — 100% messed up. They already feel bad — beaten up on the inside by the sin they have committed. What can we do for them?
- Line my life up with the Spirit — Paul describes the helping brother as “spiritual” – a person deeply involved with the Spirit of God. It is impossible to provide support and encouragement when my own life is marked by sin’s control.
- Be sure my purpose is to “restore” — Paul uses a medical term for “setting a broken bone or dislocated joint”. Don’t beat up the beaten soul!
- Cloak my words and manner with “gentleness” — approach with care and with not intent to cause harm.
Paul describes this process as bearing “one another’s burdens” — loads that we cannot carry alone. When we have blown it, how very much we need encouragement and gracious words. Most of the erring souls we deal with are knee-deep in self-condemnation and a consciousness of personal failure.
Are we going to add to the burden today? Or make it lighter with a word of encouragement and simple redirection?