What is a Christian to do when he encounters an erring, sinful brother?Bottom of Form Paul provided an answer to this all-important question in Galatians 6:1-6. Sin is certainly a reality in every Christian’s life (I John 1:8, 10; James 3:2).
Believers should, therefore, not be debating whether or not they can sin. The issue we need to address is not the reality of sin, but rather, what are we to do when our brother sins? Sin affects not only the believer himself, but also affects those he loves most. At the heart of the matter, sin is a crack in the wall of holiness and purity. Without these two items in our personal lives, we are stamped null and void in our usefulness and service to God. What, then must we do when we encounter an erring, sinful brother or sister?
First, we must lift him. As Christian brothers, we have a primary responsibility (as spiritual men) of restoration. According to the instructions of Paul, “Brethren, if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal. 6:1a). Spiritual refers to those believers in the Lord Jesus who are walking in and filled by the Spirit of God in Christ Jesus. This is a reference to the inner strength and power that Christ alone gives each believer. The word restore actually means the mending or repairing of that which is broken. It is used of the setting of a broken bone. In other words, it is an integral and necessary part of the healing process. The restoration of a sinful brother is always done by helping the brother recognize that his trespass was indeed a trespass if he has not already done this. Until he has done this, restoration is impossible.
However, once he has confessed his sin before God, turned from it in repentance and sought God’s forgiveness, it is our responsibility to restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness (Gal. 6:1c).
Second, we must lead him. It is not enough to simply give words of encouragement and hope of our forgiveness and restoration to the now forgiven brother. We have further responsibilities. Once the brother has been lifted up, we must come alongside him and lead him back into fellowship by helping him. The bearing of one another’s burdens reminds us that no man is an island. As spiritual men, we are called upon to make ourselves available to our brother for accountability and encouragement. Too often, it is easy to say “I love you” or “I forgive you” and then simply brush them aside. We often do this, because somewhere deep in our own spirits we feel superior to the one who has fallen.
Third, we are to love him. The final responsibility of the spiritual man in relation to the fallen brother is to encourage him in love and support. Paul says that the one who is taught the word should share all good things with him who teaches.” We are given a ministry of sharing. Paul is talking about the spiritual man’s responsibility to share all the good things, which include, but are not limited to material goods. Once again, the main thrust of this statement is that of fellowship. Paul uses the word koinoneo, which is the verb form of the noun that is commonly translated fellowship. It is the idea of both parties involved mutually sharing and caring for one another in the bond of love. The love of Christ is the most basic need of all of humanity. We should never allow anything to break this God-given bond between believers. We should not allow the failures and distractions of life to cancel the love of God for us through one another.