By: Adam McClendon
Galatians 6:1–5: 1 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. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.
In this passage, the apostle Paul calls believers to be agents of restoration for those who are bound in sin. So many rich things can be said of this passage and this precious call; nonetheless, for the sake of brevity, only 4 thoughts for consideration will be presented here.
1. Each believer is commanded to be a Restoration Agent.
The statement translated “should restore” is actually a command in the original languages. All believers who have the Spirit of the living God within them and are seeking to live in accordance with that Spirit are spiritual (Gal 3:14; 4:6; 5:16, 25). This command is for each member of the church not just those perceived to be leaders.
God has a role for each member of his body in helping restore others. Instead of passing along concerns for others, believers should see God’s sovereignty in placing them in the path of this need and believe that God adequately equips those he calls into his service.
2. Restoration Agents will experience the best and worst of community.
The reality is that wounded people wound people. When someone tries to help someone who is bound in sin, they will experience all types of responses. They may be attacked and asked who they think they are. They may be accused of being judgmental. Their generosity may be taken advantage of.
At the same time, some will respond to these loving gestures to come alongside and bear these great burdens. Some will respond well and in so doing allow brotherly bonds to be forged in the depths of these trials.
3. Restoration does not necessarily mean the removal of all consequences.
As people do allow for others to help, consequences may still remain. Divorce may still happen. God may not heal the STD. Gambling and addiction debts may remain and children may still get hurt.
Restoration doesn’t negate the destructive wake sin leaves.
4. Restoration is messy.
Helping others is a messy process. Look at the ministry around Jesus. Chaos and messes followed him everywhere. All too often, churches strive to be “pretty,” when the biblical model of restoration will actually cause them to be brilliantly and biblically messy.
This type of restorative forgiveness is transformative to a community. When believers understand the depth of their sin and the unbelievable forgiveness they have experienced from God it changes their approach to sin. It does not lessen the disdain for rebellion whether it be from themselves or someone else; however, it helps them in continually reaching out and reaching up. It causes believers to repeatedly forgive and seek restoration for others. It causes them to lose count of transgressions and be kind to others. It causes them to respond kindly to harsh comments and realize that when people are in habitual sin, they often act irrationally. Why? Because wounded people, wound people.
When this type of restoration is practiced, it will deepen the authenticity, patience, humility, strength, and transparency in a church family and they will experience the depth of community in a way like never before.