July 22, 2021
1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.
You also may be tempted. Tempted to do what? We could be tempted into the same sin as we are helping another to see. Sometimes as we see the sins of another, it is easy to point them out, but then going to help them out of that sin we find the temptation of it strong as well. We could be tempted to a different sin, likely that of self-righteousness. This is the one that Paul speaks of in verse 3. Thinking that we are superior because we don’t have the same sin.
This set of verses reminds me of two lessons from my past. The first from it is that we should not be judgmental toward those who sin differently than us. It is easy to point out the sin of others and not notice our own, or think ours is not that bad. And in our minds, it probably doesn’t seem as bad. But we are reminded that there is not a hierarchy of sin; it is all disobedience. It is a rebellion against the God who created us and called us to be his people.
The second lesson is about how we then do restore another gently. It is that lesson of say it once. In an inviting way we show the sin and give opportunity for restoration. Not repeatedly telling others what we think is wrong with them. They have heard it. We might think they missed it because change has not happened. It may be coming more slowly than we think it should. It may be they simply disagree with our assessment. And our role is not to be the Holy Spirit for others. It is ours to offer restoration, reconciliation (see 2 Corinthians 5.11-21).
Our part is in the restoration. Not waiting for a response (see note below regarding abusive relationships), we move forward in restoration on our part. Welcoming them into relationship or renewing relationship. We continue to work to love others even when they sin differently than we do. Not yet having reached anything of perfection, we offer and receive help in being transformed in the work of the Holy Spirit.
Song – Psalm 46
O God of peace, we have built up walls to protect ourselves from our enemies, but those walls also shut us off from receiving your love. Break down those walls. Help us to see that the way to your heart is through the reconciliation of our own hearts with our enemies. Bless them and us, that we may come to grow in love for each other and for you, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
*Note that this is about restoration of one who sins differently than us. It is not a statement about abusive relationships, which are also different sins. There are requirements for change when we are getting away from abusive relationships. If that is the case, we suggest talking to a counselor and to the authorities who can offer protection/relief from an abusive person.