When He died…I did not exist…
except in His mind.
I was just another unborn sinner with a lifetime of future offenses.
But I was known.
He knew the lost and broken soul.
And He was ready to forgive my sins before I had done any of them…
on the morning I first drew breath…
before I felt the dark stains in my soul.
His is an ancient readiness to forgive.
Because He loves me…
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
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?