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?