“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.” Galatians 6:1
While it is not a delightful thought, all of us have been touched by the waywardness of a fellow believer. It may have been as close as someone in the immediate family or as far away as a brief introduction to a friend of a friend of a friend. In either case, the body of Christ is commanded to set in place a means of recovery that the fallen may be no more a reproach to the Beloved or a rift to the body. When writing to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul spoke of this when he said, “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another” (I Corinthians 12:25). Within our text in Galatians 6:1, there are specific principles concerning the man of recovery and the means of recovery. The man of recovery is marked by two characteristics; the individual is to be saved as indicated by the word, “brethren” and is to be spirit-filled as indicated by the phrase, “ye which are spiritual.”
When it comes to the means of recovery, there are multiple things that could be mentioned but I want to examine three that are not only imperative, but obvious from the text. Recovery is achieved by the means of tenderness, “in the spirit of meekness.” The word “meekness” means mildness by implication humble or the display of humility. The transgressor is not the enemy, but a brother that has been ensnared by the deceptive ways of the evil one! Our first reaction is to retaliate because of the hurt that has been generated by their indiscretion, but we must remember that they too have been mortally wound as the result of their transgression! The entrance of sin in the garden mortally wounded our father Adam, and it continues to have the same effect on the lives of all his sons and daughters. The Word of God tells us that “the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4). It was the tenderness of Christ that drew the sinner unto Himself and it will be that same tenderness displayed in the life of the Christian that will draw the wayward back into right relationship to the Beloved and the body of Christ.
The means of recovery is accomplished by time, “restore such an one.” I want to draw your attention to the word “restore.” The word means to complete thoroughly, repair, adjust or mend, to perfectly join together. Some have said that the word gives the idea of setting a broken bone or one that is out of joint. There is an old addage that says, “Time heals all wounds.” While I am not in total agreement with that statement; “The healing of wounds requires time.” A few years back, I fell face forward out of a tree stand. In addition to my other injuries, I broke my left hand; while it took but a moment to break, it required a lengthily period of time to recover. While the cross of Calvary dealt with the penalty of sin, once and for all; there is no quick fix for the pollution of sin. Sin leaves its mark on everything it touches and in most instances, the stains run deep! Recovery requires time for both the one that is in need of recovery and the one that is desirous of being an aid to that recovery.
If we would be transparent and honest with ourselves; most of us find it difficult when it comes to tenderness and time! It is far easier to be a Pharisee than it is to be a physician! Our immediate response is usually “You got what you deserved; you made your bed now lie in it.” or “I’m going to give you one shot at getting right so you had better get it right the first time.” How do we get past our critical and judgmental spirit? It is the third aspect of the means of recovery that aids us in the area of tenderness and time; it is truthfulness, “considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” The simple truth is, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” The great Apostle Paul knew this to be true for himself. He wrote in Romans 7:21-24, “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” It is easy to forget that while we may be called by a different name, we all possess the same nature! Pride causes us to inflate our worth while minimizing the value of those about us. Paul said, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” ( Romans 12:3). Only an honest evaluation of self will cause us minister to others in a manner that we ourselves would want to be ministered to!
Few qualify to be the man who aids in recovery and the ranks are thinned even more when we take into consideration the means of recovery; tenderness, time, and thoughtfulness. Will you be a means of recovery?
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