Galatians 6:1-2 (KJV)
1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Is there anyone reading this who has not, at one time or another, been overtaken in a fault? I would guess at one time or another, we have all stumbled in our walk with the Lord. The Greek word used here is paraptóma, which means a falling away, lapse, sin or trespass. In the KJV, it is usually translated offence, while in other translations it is commonly trespass. It is from the root word that means to side-step or fall back. The meaning we can take from it is that this person has fallen back into a previous sin, or has become wayward in their walk with the Lord. This person has been overtaken and needs help.
Throughout the Bible, God warns His people about this kind of condition. In the Old Testament we see this addressed several times. In Deuteronomy 28:14r, Moses tells the people not to turn aside from the commands of God, not to the right or the left to serve other idols and other gods. After finishing their wandering in the wilderness, they are told not to veer to the right or to the left from God’s law (Joshua 1:7). In Proverbs 4:27, turning to the right or the left is equated with doing evil. In every case, we are looking aft a person who has wandered off the path toward God. And Paul says it is our duty to restore them!
I’m going to get very personal now because it is the best way I can tell you how this works. In the past, I have had a problem with pornography. It got so bad that I was looking at things on company computers. I had they keys to our various locations, and I would travel there early to fulfill my lust. I even printed things out on our top of the line copiers. To top that off, I am the one who wrote the company policy the dos and don’ts of computer usage. My actions were the height of pride. I thought myself above the very rules that I had written.
When it was discovered what I had been doing, I was immediately terminated. Twenty years down the drain. When I got home, I called my wife and asked her tom come home early from work. I then spilled it out to her. She said we needed to get with my Pastor, so we did that as soon as he was available – the next day. I had lied to him too, and he was deeply hurt. He said to give him a little time to think about what to do next. I had disgraced him and his church.
The result of his inquiries was a place called Pure Life Ministries. PLM was a destination for people with sexual sin, especially those in leadership in a church. I would have to raise a lot of money up front, be gone for at least 6 months, and leave my family behind. But my Pastor said I would never set foot in his church again if I did not go. With the full support of my wife and family, I went and it was the best thing I have ever done for myself and for my family.
Meanwhile my wife decided to go back to a church we had gone to before for 10 years. They accepted her in with open arms, and when I returned they accepted me as well. No questions, no love lost, no regrets. I told the Pastor at that church why I had been gone and it did not phase him in the least. They loved us back into God’s grace. They strengthened my wife so she was strong enough to see the whole thing out. This was 10 years ago.
Today, we are still at that church. I am back in ministry and free from the sexual sin that had made me turn to the right and the left. My wife and I will be celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary this November. While our marriage suffered tremendously, we still love each other. My kids are all wonderful and loving. Had it not been for those people who restored us when the world came tumbling down around us, we would have tumbled along with it.
This is what Paul is talking about. There is a saying that the church is one place that eats its own wounded. I have seen this happen as well. Someone falls into sin, and the church turns its back on them. They want top cast out the person who has sinned. Yes, Paul does talk about this in Corinthians, but he is talking about continual open sin. Not a slip or fall. Jesus tells us to go directly to a person who is overtaken in a fault. If that does not restore them, we should take someone with us the second time. If that does not work, then bring it up before the church. Finally, they should be asked to leave the church. Without following the right steps, we are walking to the left or the right of the law ourselves.
The other danger is that we will be drawn away into our own pitfall. If we allow pride to set in, and turn against the one who is struggling, we are guilty as well. That is why Paul says we should restore them in the spirit of meekness. Meekness helps us to understand it is God who is doing the restoring, not us. As we allow the spirit of God to work through us, and put our own thoughts and ambitions behind us, all of us will be the better for it. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap!
Bearing each other’s burdens means we uphold each other, encourage each other, forgive each other and love each other. I love Ephesians 4:29 in this context:
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
That it may minister grace to the hearers. That is what we are supposed to be – ministers of grace. We were given an incredible amount of grace. We should be giving that grace to others. How do we minister grace? We walk in the Spirit, displaying the fruit of the spirit at every turn. How do we do that? We stay close to God ourselves, not turning to the right or the left.
The end of verse 2 says that by doing this, we fulfill the law of Christ. You might wonder how obeying these two simple verses fulfill the law of Christ. There is so much more that we can do. What about winning souls? Opening blind eyes? Praying for the sick? Feeding the hungry? Clothing the naked? How does this fulfill the law of Christ? It’s really quite simple. The law of Christ can be summed up in one word – Mercy. When we show mercy, we are doing the work of Christ. His whole mission was Mercy. He was Mercy in the flesh. When we are doing the Father’s business, we are doing mercy.
My mercy guide your every thought, word and action. Let everyone see that you are all about mercy. Let mercy be the deciding factor in every decision you need to make. Let mercy reign!