Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Galatians 6:1

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.

When I was growing up, our Sunday school teachers always explained this verse like this: When your friends start to smoke or do drugs or sleep around, you should try to set them back on the path of good works and morality. But be careful, because it would really be easy for them to suck you into their immoral lifestyle.

But maybe this verse is about much more than stopping people from doing some naughty things.

IF all sin flows from unbelief (and it does),
and IF faith cannot help but bear good fruit (and it does),
and IF people are prone to pharisaism (and because of our sinful nature, all are),

then maybe this verse is calling us to flee to Jesus' mercy when we see our brother in sin. We need to speak in such a way that his faith be turned to Christ and not to anything in himself. (This, of course, does not mean that we avoid use of the Law. The Law is necessary that we might be stripped of all reliance on ourselves and trust only in Jesus' goodness.) Our temptation when "restoring a brother overtaken in a trespass" is that he should be as good as we are -- that he should try to be as holy as we are.

But when we "consider ourselves" we find nothing in us but sin and death from which we can in no wise set ourselves free. And yet Christ is merciful to us and has made us a new creation. And so when we help our struggling brother, we help him, not to spiff up his life, but to find his sole sufficiency in the Savior who loves both him and us. That keeps us from being tempted. And it is the only salvation which can restore the brother.

1 comment:

  1. C.S. Lewis, when talking about "Nice People or New Men" in Mere Christianity, says: "'Niceness' - wholesome, integrated personality - is an excellent thing. We must try by every medical, educational, economic, and political means in our power to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up 'nice'; just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world - and might even be more difficult to save."

    This isn't Lewis, but it's another quote which I think sums it up nicely, too: "Jesus didn't come to make bad men good; he came to make dead mean live."