Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
All Christians are called to be ministers. God uses us to accomplish His purposes by giving us assigned tasks based on our spiritual gifts, talents, and abilities. It is our job as Christians to keep ourselves in a spiritual state of readiness so that we can serve when and where God directs.
Today’s focus text reveals a ministry that can only be handled by the spiritually mature (“you who are spiritual”) Christian. New Christians and those who are Christians with chronic sin issues should steer clear of this ministry that I’ll call The Ministry of Restoration.
God only wants a select group of spiritually mature special forces working to restore Christians (“brothers”) who have been “caught in a sin.” In other words, if you are spiritually immature you are not to stick your nose into the sinful business of others. Jesus puts it this way, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:42)
Not only is God clear on who should get involved in the ministry of restoration, but he also specifies the manner in which the task is to be handled. When attempting to minister to a Christian “caught in sin” you “should restore him gently.”
Most often, gentle restoration is not the course of action taken when dealing with a Christian who is engaging in destructive sinful behavior. The more likely response is to use the offender’s inappropriate behavior as a source of entertainment. When you react to such situations with gossip you have rendered yourself useless for The Ministry of Restoration. Put simply, gossip is a sinful act revealing that you are spiritually immature and unsuitable for this special ministry.
What happens when you confront someone engaged in sinful behavior? They will either vehemently deny or defend it. You are likely to get a tongue lashing as they pull out a laundry list of inappropriate behavior they have observed or heard about you. However, the sinning Christian will be more open to the counsel of someone they respect in the faith, someone who has historically exhibited spiritual maturity.
This ministry comes with a warning. Paul says, “watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” In such up close and personal ministry, in which the darkest behavior and secrets are revealed, there is a danger that you too can be lured into that web of sin. Since I’ve already used the term “special forces” to describe this kind of ministry there is also application to be made from a military perspective. “Get in and get out.” You are stepping into territory where Satan already has a foothold. You are working in enemy territory. Be on guard.
The loving, caring, compassionate, and gentle words of a spiritually mature friend in the faith can accomplish much. When we see someone who is sick, grieving, or hurting we naturally feel compassion and want to help. But our response to those who are immersed deeply in sinful behavior is more likely that of indignation, scorn, ridicule, and gossip. Shouldn’t we also have pity on them? They are part of our Christian family and their behavior is not only offensive to God but it also has them on a course that leads to pain, heartache, and ruin. More often than not, they are not only hurting themselves but also those closest to them. When you restore someone through the ministry of restoration you are not only helping that one….you are helping their family and friends.
The Ministry of Restoration is not for everybody but it should be desired by all of us. Strive for spiritual maturity that you might be equipped and prepared for any and all of God’s special assignments.
For more on this topic, check out this article: Make Time to Serve Jesus Christ
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.