“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”
Restore such a one
Spiritually minded Christians should “restore” the Christian overtaken by sin. Secular Greek uses “restore” for setting broken bones or mending fishing nets (Matthew 4:21). The idea is to restore the former good condition.
The idea of “restore” is not that we are to criticize fallen Christians for their sin but that they will criticize themselves. That is confession (1 Corinthians 11:31; 1 John 1:9). Criticism of others will not help them get back into fellowship. The true issue is whether they are critical of what they have done.
The present tense in the Greek indicates that we should make it a habit to restore fallen believers when we see them.
Christians are in the business of unscrambling scrambled eggs.
Fallen believers need mending, not tearing. They need restoration, not trampling. The objective is to restore them to an appropriate spiritual condition. We go about the business of resetting broken spiritual bones.
“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete [restore] in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21).
Instead of bringing fallen people back to fellowship, some churches drive them farther away. They put them out of the church, so they lose contact with spiritual Christians. Instead of giving them help, we kick people while they are down. We treat them worse than the lost – worse than dirt. The only time it is justified to put people out of church is where there is implacability to God’s authority (1 Corinthians 5:1f).
Do you take the responsibility to restore fallen believers into fellowship? Many view this as an invasion of privacy, but this is not a privacy issue when it comes to the family of God. Family members have the right to address concerns with one another.
Neither should a spiritual believer be overly sympathetic with a person out of fellowship. Empathy is one thing, but sympathy is another. There is a delicate balance between being objectively critical on the one hand and overly subjectively sympathetic on the other. This is why God requires a spirit-filled believer to make these judgments.
If someone sins in an area where we are not weak, we might be tempted to be overly censorious with him or her. Some of us get a strange sense of elation by looking down our noses at a fallen believer because we have a particular strength in that area. They make us look good. In doing this, we make ourselves susceptible to our fallen nature because we are not alert to our own peculiar vulnerabilities. It makes us feel good that we have not committed this sin.