Summary: The church can become a place of healing for broken people if we seek to restore them spiritually, gently, humbly, and lovingly.
Freedom’s Restoration (Galatians 6:1-5)
Tell me: If you were caught for drunken driving, and the headlines in the Advocate or the Observer said, “So-and-so Arrested for Drunken Driving,” would you go to church the next Sunday?
Most people would say, “No,” because they’d be too embarrassed to face their Christian friends.
But why not go to church the next Sunday. After all, church is a place to find healing. Fred Smith, who likes to ask this question of people, says it’s stupid not to go to church after you’ve messed up. “It’s sort of like a man who’s hit by an automobile, and he’s got blood all over the place, and his bones are broken, and they try to take him to the hospital, and he says: ‘Wait. I’m a mess. Let me go home and get cleaned up. Let me get these bones set, let me heal, and then I’ll go to the hospital.’” (Steven Brown, “A Calvinist Talks About His Friend, John Wesley,” Preaching Today, Issue No. 58; www.PreachingToday.com)
The problem is too many churches, instead of being places of healing for broken people, are places of judgment and condemnation; or worse, they are places where the brokenness is ignored and everybody pretends everything is alright.
The question I want us to ask this morning is: How can we become a place of healing for broken people? How can Bethel Church become a restorative place for people who have messed up? How can any Church become a place where people caught in sin get set free?
Galatians 6:1 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. (NIV)
If we want to become a place of healing for broken people, then 1st of all, we must RESTORE THE SINNER, NOT IGNORE THEIR SIN. We must care enough to MEND A BROKEN LIFE or SET A PERSON STRAIGHT before they completely destroy themselves.
The word for “restore” was used by doctors in Bible times to describe setting a broken bone, making it straight again, restoring it to its former condition.
The word was also used by fisherman to describe the mending of nets. In Matthew 4 and Mark 1, we see fisherman on the shore of the Sea of Galilee mending their nets. It’s the same word used here in Galatians 6. Their nets had torn and become useless, so they took the time to sew their nets back together again. They were restoring their nets, making them useful again.
And that’s exactly what the sinning Believer needs! Sin has ripped away at their life and made them useless. They don’t need somebody to tear away at them some more. They need somebody to come along side and mend them. They need somebody to help make them useful again for God’s service.
God calls us to restore the sinner, not blame him. Someone once wrote: Blame never affirms; it assaults. Blame never restores; it wounds. Blame never solves; it complicates. Blame never unites; it separates. Blame never smiles; it frowns. Blame never forgives; it rejects. Blame never forgets; it remembers. Blame never builds; it destroys.
So don’t play the blame game, because nobody wins in that game. Restore the sinner; don’t blame him.
And don’t gossip about him either. Don’t talk behind his back. Don’t talk ABOUT him. Instead; talk TO Him. “Restore the sinner,” God says.
DON’T IGNORE THE SIN. Don’t pretend nothing is wrong. That doesn’t help anybody either. Ignoring a broken bone only makes it worse, not better! So it is when we ignore sin in a person’s life. It doesn’t make it better; it makes it worse!
To be certain, we’re not to blame sinners, and we’re not to gossip about them. But we cannot close our eyes to their sin, which is causing them so much pain.
Instead, we must care enough about people to address the sin in their lives, personally and privately, not behind their backs, not talking ABOUT them, but talking TO them.
Jesus himself said, in Matthew 18:15, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.”
I remember when a friend of mine did this for me years ago. We were in seminary at the time, and I was complaining about the treatment I got from the Field Education Department. I wanted to get Field Education credit for teaching a Sunday School class AFTER the semester began, but the rules required that I sign up BEFORE the semester began. I asked for special consideration, because I didn’t know I was going to teach that class until it was too late to sign up for the credit. Even so, the Field Education Department refused to grant me the credit, and I was complaining to a fellow student (Tim Sherman).