the weblog of Alan Knox

You who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness

Posted by on May 24, 2012 in discipleship | 4 comments

You who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness

Over the last few days, I’ve been following a common theme, which I first examined in the post “When there is much activity, but very little progress.” For every follower of Jesus, there will be times when we think that we are obeying Jesus and following him, but, in reality, we are not. We may even be doing very good things – even “godly” things – but that does not mean that we are actually following Jesus in those things.

Even though we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, there will be times when we are not listening to him directly for various reasons. As I said in my post “Scripture as a mirror – a glimpse into love or a lack of love,” God often uses Scripture to show us where we are not following him or not allowing the Holy Spirit to do his work in us.

But, there’s another way that God works in our lives to get our attention when we are not following him. He also works through our brothers and sisters in Christ. The title of this post comes from a statement made by Paul to the believers in the region of Galatia:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Galatians 6:1 ESV)

Throughout this passage, Paul points out that he is writing to people who are in Christ and indwelled by the Spirit. (Although he is concerned about them if they move away from the true gospel of grace and back toward a gospel of works.) So, then, this verse is talking about people who are in Christ and indwelled by the Spirit of God and yet “caught in a transgression/sin.”

How does God restore them? Through “brothers and sisters” who approach them in gentleness. God works through his children to help others recognize that they are not following him.

Another great passage to demonstrate this principle is found in Hebrews 12:

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled… (Hebrews 12:12-15 ESV)

In this passage, the author is encouraging his readers to allow God to work through them to “restore” the drooping hands and weak knees of their brothers and sisters in Christ. If we recognize and acknowledge that God can and does work through others to point out when we are not following him, then we can also recognize why our fellowship with one another in the Spirit is so important.

When we keep others at “arm’s distance,” we are also blocking out one way that God uses to work in our lives.

Has God ever used your brothers and sisters in Christ to restore you when you had wandered away from him?


4 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 5-24-2012

    Oh yes
    Howard

  2. 5-25-2012

    The turning points in my 33 yrs as a Christian can all be pinned on a difficult conversation with another person – believers and unbelievers – who had the courage and love to speak honestly with me. Sometimes it is through a message preached, but if there’s no accountability to a person, how quickly that conviction can fade! I can misinterpret God’s Word, or have a distorted image of God, but when a person corrects me, something about that physical voice brings me back to reality.
    As hard as those conversations are on the receiving end, it’s harder to initiate them!

  3. 5-25-2012

    I’ve had many brothers & sisters do it in the wrong way — very few do it in the right way (gently…as you’ve reminded us)

    I find for me/us, it takes a lot of encouraging, supporting words to build trust… before the gentle sharpening will be received well.

    and I know very few people who are in close enough community with their church brothers/sisters to be able to sharpen each other at all.

  4. 5-27-2012

    Janet,

    Your comment reminded me of something Paul wrote: “I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body.” He was talking about his example of joyous living in spite of suffering, but I think it applies to your statement about the “physical voice” also.

    Randi,

    It often takes alot of encouraging from people who are close to me also.

    -Alan