We’ve all been there—we’re in a group where something happens that is so grave, the sin causes such a massive rift that it threatens the health of the group. It’s sad that situations like affairs or theft or deceit or favoritism or pride or a whole host of other fallible intangibles push their tentacles into the lives of our churches and Her groups. It’s not a matter of if it will happen, but when. Because it will happen. It happens because we are a depraved people who desperately need the blood of Jesus and His grace every day.
So as Christians, looking to Jesus to do what only He can do through us should be our first step. We provide comfort for the fallen, and we hope that a culture of restoration exists in our church. But oftentimes, it doesn’t. Churches across this country rip life from people because it’s easier to sweep highly public matters under the proverbial rug. There is little help for the fallen—and that shouldn’t be the case. Churches, of all places, should be models for helping the lost and restoring the sinner.
Galatians 6 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture that deals with restoration.
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone considers himself something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” – Galatians 6:1-3
Paul isn’t giving us advice here. He’s giving us directives on how we serve each other as believers in Christ. When someone you know is in sin’s grasp, restore them. This call is to those “who are spiritual,” and that doesn’t mean just pastors or group leaders. It means all Christians. And we are called to do it with a gentle spirit—a spirit of meekness. Of course, there has to be repentance from the person gripped in sin; yet once repentance happens, we must restore them to the fold.
Restore. Restore. Restore. I can’t say it enough. Restore to the point that we are carrying one another’s burdens like Paul describes in verse 2.
We all have our own load to carry, but it’s one that we can carry without laboring. Think of a backpack or rucksack you see soldiers wearing in the field. That is a load. A burden, on the other hand, is something we can’t carry on our own. The weight of the burden is impossible for us to hold by ourselves. And in that case, we have to carry one another’s burdens.
One more nugget of wisdom from Paul here—watch out for yourself so that you, too, won’t be tempted. That’s one of the reasons the restoration should be done with a gentle and meek spirit. Be tender with those overtaken and consumed with sin. We are not immune to sin’s temptation.
Our churches and groups are full of sinners. It’s highly possible that you have dealt with the presence of sin and its harsh effects in your small group. But as believers in a loving God, we are called to restore. Do it gently. Do it carefully. And do it because that’s exactly what God directs you to do. It’s not optional—it’s a scriptural mandate.
Matt Morris is a Brand Manager at Lifeway Christian Resources in Nashville, Tennessee. He has served in ministry for over 11 years. Matt is married to Carmen and they have twins, Hudson and Harper. Matt and his family are members of First Baptist Church Mount Juliet, where he serves as a deacon.