Summary: In this section of Galatians Paul encourages the Body how to restore a fallen brother or sister to fellowship.
Mending Broken Lives
Brokenness is a best seller in our society. The moral failures and sins of those around us are consumed by us like Gatorade on a hot August afternoon on the practice field. The demise of the lives of people like homemaking mogul Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson, the “King of Pop,” James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul,” or Tyco CEO, Dennis Kozlowski, are everyday items in the headlines of newspapers and the stories of anchors on the evening news. The sins of people, all kinds of people, both high profile celebrities and unfamiliar names and faces, are hot items in our voyeuristic society. We love to watch the mighty fall and we don’t mind witnessing the downfall of the boy-next-door if we don’t have a celebrity to watch self-destruct.
Witnessing the demise of a life is a passive hobby for many folks today. This passive observation of destruction takes no skill, no commitment, and no investment on our part—we just wait for the morning paper or the evening news and pick-up on the latest stories of self-destruction and public humiliation.
On the morning that I wrote this sermon I heard the story of another life swirling down the drain. Paul O’Leary, former EMSA spokesman was charged on Wednesday with having child pornography on his work computer. The newspaper article said that O’Leary admitted to his boss that he had been downloading pictures of child pornography from the internet. The article stated, "He told them that he knew it was wrong, and that he’s ’had a problem ever since high school.’”
I have to admit that if I were not working on the section of Scripture that we are studying today I would have probably thought to myself, “Well, there is another pervert off the street.” I’m not proud to admit this to you, it is simply more evidence of my hard heart. I was not so cold and proud on Thursday morning when I heard about Mr. O’Leary’s sin. There is no doubt in my mind that the reason I had other thoughts is because of the Scripture I had been studying all week. Instead of seeing this man that I’ve never met as a pervert, I thought about his family, I thought about a man who knew what he was doing was wrong, I thought about the consequences of his actions on his life and its impact on his family, and I wondered if there would be anyone who would go to him to help “gently” restore him.
My experience with those who have been exposed, those who are suffering under the weight of their sin, is that folks run from them like cockroaches when the light comes on. How are we to respond to those who fall and find themselves suffering because of their sin? Are we to turn our backs and walk away? Are we to wink at their sin and tell them that it’s no big deal? What are we to do? These are great questions, important questions because sin is pervasive, it strikes at every life, and its residue is found on the doorposts of every home and heart. John wrote about the pervasive of sin in 1 John 1:8-10.
8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. (1 John 1:8-10 NIV)
This Scripture shows us, that as the Body of Christ, we are going to be confronted with the sin of our own lives as well as the lives of those that we love. When sin raises its ugly head and takes its toll upon the lives of those around us we are called to head out on a mission. The mission that we are called to is not a “seek and destroy” mission, but a “search and rescue” mission. Let’s take a look at our Scripture for today found in Galatians 6:1-5.
1Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5for each one should carry his own load. 6Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. (Galatians 5:26-6:1-6 NIV)
In our last study we took a look at the characteristics of the sin nature and the fruit of the Spirit. We don’t have to spend too much time talking about how our sin nature manifests itself in things like drunkenness, envy, fits of rage, sexual immorality, etc. We don’t have to talk about our sin nature from a theoretical standpoint, we know its effect upon our lives, we have felt its consequences, and we’ve suffered from its bondage and addiction.