Published on November 29th, 2011 | by Stephanie S. Smith
One way to guarantee ministry burn-out is to adopt the attitude that you can save people, because with this outlook, you’re destined to fail. Every missionary, church leader, pastor, and counselor has to come to terms with this at some point: there is only one Savior, and we are not Him. When we realize this, it relieves the pressure of having to “fix” or “save” someone, and we can take heart entrusting the individual in need to God’s care.
This seems to be Paul’s point in Galatians 6 as he addresses how to confront a believer caught in sin.
Paul instructs, “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. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
I think it’s interesting that Paul is warning against the pride of the confronter here just as much as he warns against the transgressor’s sin. Before our minds can jump to the self-righteous conclusion that we are elevated in our spiritual devotion in contrast to those caught in sin, Paul calls us out on our pride. He calls us out on claiming righteousness through comparison with other sinners like ourselves.
It’s a humbling reminder that we are all susceptible to the same sins, as Paul cautions to “keep watch on yourself” as we lovingly restore others. His point is that temptation is universal, and no one is exempt.
“The law of Christ” that is mentioned refers to Christ’s command to love one another (John 13:34), and Paul says it is the reason for carrying each other’s burdens and walking with a brother or sister through the restoration and healing process.
Love is the only motivation that should drive us to help and restore others. Not an inflated sense of spiritual pride, not a misled perception that we can “save them,” but obedience to what Christ names the second greatest commandment (second to loving God): loving others.
What are your motivations for correcting or confronting others?
What do you think it looks like to restore an individual gently?