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Christ is Enough…to Restore the Fallen – Blog & Podcast

November 30, 2018

In the church, we strive to provide opportunities for those who want to grow spiritually and in fellowship. We have worship services, Bible studies, mission opportunities, fellowship events, and we encourage people to build relationships. We encourage the church to reach out to those who have been absent and to share the Gospel with those who don’t know Christ. There is another segment of people that I wonder how effective we are at reaching, or even how aware we are of their needs. I’m speaking about those who, in the words of Paul, have been “overtaken in any wrongdoing”. In other words, those who have fallen into a sinful or destructive pattern.

As we continue to work through Galatians, Paul moves from a focus on living by the Spirit and not by the flesh at the end of chapter 5 to a direct application of this in chapter 6. He speaks directly to the church and specifically to those who are the maturing believers in the church and makes them aware that ignoring those people are not an option.

Many times, we do not reach out to people who are struggling because we feel we don’t know enough, aren’t sure what to say or do, or they may have even hurt us and we don’t really want to reach out. According to Scripture, that is not an option for the church. Let us look at what Paul says about this in Galatians 6:1-5.

 Galatians 6:1-5, Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Let each person examine his own work, and then he can take pride in himself alone, and not compare himself with someone else. For each person will have to carry his own load.

What does it mean to be “overtaken in any wrongdoing”? Overtaken literally means “caught”, as in caught in the act of some discretion or being caught up in some pattern of destructive behavior. As we look at Paul’s instruction to the church as to how to react, it is imperative that we act prayerfully and carefully. Many people either do not act or react wrongly in these situations, which can do more damage than good. Paul gives three action words in the text which are command words to the church to respond to those who have stumbled along the way.

The first action word Paul gives to the church in reaching out to the fallen is RESTORE (verse 1)

The goal of any reaching out, of any effort to minister to the fallen should always be toward restoration and redemption, not pruning or condemnation. We see examples in Scripture, such as the woman taken in adultery that was brought to Jesus, where he exhibited grace, not condemnation, and her life was restored. Matthew 18 gives clear directives as to the process of handling a conflict and I believe the same process can apply here, but with even a greater emphasis on grace.

A word of caution. When someone is struggling, the last thing that will help them is for me to talk about it to someone else. The Bible calls that gossip and gossip, at the least, is unhelpful, and at the most, is hurtful and divisive. Your first response should be to pray, then pray some more, and then you should pray again. Then, as God directs, move toward restoration.

The next action word Paul gives to the church in reaching out to the fallen is CARRY (verse 2)

What did Jesus do with the burdens of others? He carried them. What did He do with my burdens? He carried them. I Peter 2:24 tells us that Jesus “bore our sins in his body on the tree”. Isaiah 53 tells us that He was wounded for our transgressions. Throughout the New Testament we see evidence of the committed Christian life is that we love God and love other people.

When we are invested in the burdens of others, it keeps us from looking down on others. When we are engaged in carrying the burdens of others, it creates community, and helps us to realize we all have struggles in this life. The fact is, burdens are a reality in this life. Whether it be physical illness, mental illness, financial crisis, addiction, family issues, or whatever it may be, Jesus told us in John 16:33, “You will have suffering in this world.”

Choosing not to get involved in helping carry the burdens of others can be a symbol of pride. Pride creates a heart that is anti-missional, anti-brotherly love and anti-Kingdom advance.

The final action word Paul gives to the church is EXAMINE (verse 4)

Paul tells us that we must examine ourselves, not in comparison to others (as we are all in need of grace), but in relation to the Lord. The Judaizers brought a philosophy to the Galatian believers which lends itself to comparing one’s spirituality to others. This can be an indicator of insecurity. Any boasting we do should be in the Lord and the blessings of the Lord. Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:36 that we will have to account for every careless word we speak. We also cannot lose sight of the fact that we are responsible for our own load – nobody else can father my kids, nobody else is to love my wife as a husband is to love his wife, nobody else can provide for my family…you get the idea.

Blaming our problems on others are just not helpful. Sometimes in dealing with someone who has stumbled you may hear some blame being thrown around, but that is where we must have understanding that we are to bear our own load.

Restoration, ultimately, is not the work of any man, but a work of the Holy Spirit. We are vessels used by the Holy Spirit, in this case, toward restoration. But remember, before you act (and we have been called to act), we must pray, then we must pray again, and next we should pray some more. God’s grace is sufficient to direct.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

From → Blog Posts, Podcasts

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