“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and therefore fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:1-3
Nothing is more of a putdown than to be called a “Holy Joe” or “Super Spiritual.” The intention of the one making this kind of a remark is to offer judgment, not encouragement. “Holy Rollers” and “Bible Thumpers” are perceived to be a self-righteous posers. Those “caught in any trespass” rarely respond well to being exposed. They react to correction, by putting “The Spiritual” in their place. They intend to get them out of their face for being an irritating reminder of what is right and what is wrong.
Contemporary culture is saturated with political correctness, and driven to remove any reminder of the authority of God, The Cross, or the name of Jesus. “The Spiritual” are told to muzzle themselves or there will be hell to pay. When they persist in pointing out what Holy God says is right and wrong, they invite ridicule, and resentment. Do it anyway.
Chuck Swindoll tells the story of two churches who merged, but soon split after they couldn’t agree on the correct expression of “The Lord’s Prayer.” Every time they tried to recite it together, one group would say, “Forgive us our debts.” The other would say, “Forgive us our trespasses.” He said, “They finally separated. One went back to their debts. The other went back to their trespasses.” Unfortunately, from Paul’s day up until now, churches still have plenty of both.
“The Spiritual” are those who do a great deal more than remind. They restore. Big difference.
When the inevitable trespasses occur, “The Spiritual” don’t pull out their shock faces, point out what is wrong, and fixate on fixing the blame. They fix the problem. They don’t just expose sin. They restore sinners.
“…you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness;…” v. 1
“Restore such a one” resembles the Hippocratic Oath, and was a birthmark of the early church. Paul urged the Galatian Church to avoid becoming hypocritical when correcting the inevitable, and incorrigible trespassers in their fellowship. Ancient doctors were warned in their oath, “Do no harm.” In other words, don’t do more damage than good. If a doctor was going to be of any good to a patient, the focus must be kept on helping a person get well, not killing them with the cure.
Note to self: There is little left to restore when the mission of the church becomes “Die Heretic!” You are not called to reject those who are in the wrong, but to restore them to what is right. Start by praying for them, not by criticizing them.
“The Spiritual” don’t dissect or discern a “trespasser” to death. They intercede for them. There is nothing quite like praying for someone to get rid of the pride of life that rises up with a rush of righteous indignation. When another brother or sister is caught doing something wrong, often pride rushes in before prayer takes the field.
“Discernment is given for intercession, never fault-finding.”
Os Chambers, “My Utmost for His Highest.”
The trespasser and the intercessor have two things in common. They are both sinners, and don’t deserve God’s grace. The trespasser is separated from God’s grace. The intercessor draws near to God to bring the trespasser back to Him.
“…each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and therefore fulfill the law of Christ.
For the trespasser to be restored, there must be a relief of burdens, not the addition of more of them. ‘Bearing one another’s burdens” begins when intercession is initiated and gossip is eliminated. Talking about what a person has done wrong, is not the same thing as interceding for them to be made right.
Prideful, and prayerless people are easily deceived into believing they are above the temptation that trapped someone else. Self-deception is the lowest form of perception. When a prideful, prayerless, self-righteous hypocrite rejoices at pointing out failure, they are not restoring a brother. They are heading towards a fall off their own high horse.
For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
Talking about a person’s wrong is a far cry from interceding on their behalf to be made right. The beginning of restoration is intercession. Prayer doesn’t make it impossible to gossip about a person who has done wrong. Prayer is not fool proof. It scan be hijacked by any fool who is determined to hate someone who has done wrong. Praying for trespassers just makes it harder to gossip and hate. Prayer invites The Restorer to step into the operating room, and it takes the knives out of the hands of those who are more interested in cutting than curing.
People prone to throw rocks at every barking dog should get over themselves, and remember Jesus said, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." John 8:7
“The Spiritual” are gentle, not brutal. The same word is used to describe a wild animal that has been broken, bridled, yoked, or harnessed, and put to good use under the guiding hand of its master. “The Spiritual” are not void of sin or personal rebellion. They are just repentant of it. Those who have worn out a path returning to The Master should be the best guides back to Him.
“The Spiritual” begin the restoration process by interceding for those who have lost their way. When they discern something wrong in a brother’s life, they don’t begin to tear and share about him. They initiate the prayer for him. When they pray, they lift trespassers up to Jesus. They don't hold them down in their sin.
Prayer removes pride from the heart of the intercessor. Pride-free prayer warriors engage in intercession. They also come along side of a trespasser, and lead them to restoration. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!