Jump Start # 3163
Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
Two Christians were talking. One said that she had seen a member of her congregation going into a bar with a woman that wasn’t his wife. She continued on, saying that she had lost respect for that man and was disappointed that no one in the church was doing anything about it. The other person, joined in with critical and complaining spirit about the poor leadership in the church. On and on the discussion went, spiraling downward rapidly. The two went on their separate ways. But the one with the new found information about the man in the bar was quick to tell another person that she ran into. And, this continued on for several weeks. More and more people learned about this disgusting behavior and more and more began to complain about the indifference and lack of action from the leadership.
And, the events in this story are all too often the norm in so many places today. The man made an unwise choice that hurt his influence and others made the unwise choice of talking about it. So often we excuse and ignore the spreading of tales and rumors, gossip, as most would call it, because the other is worse than talking about it. Neither is right.
Here are some thoughts:
First, our nature seems to always assume the worse. Maybe that woman was the man’s sister. Maybe. Maybe they were going into the bar, not to drink but to help someone or pick up a package. Maybe. From seeing someone go into the bar, we immediately assume that person is going to drink and likely, will be drunk before dawn. That happens a lot.
Second, from our passage, the one who initiated the conversation about the man was admitting that she was not spiritual. Our verse tells us what the spiritual person would do. Before they talked to another, they’d talk to the person. When we gossip, we are admitting that we are not strong. We are admitting that we are not spiritual.
Third, much too often, the person who witnessed the man going into the bar would say, “it’s not my job to go talk to him.” Some, would even say, that’s why we have elders. But isn’t it your job? Isn’t that what this passage is all about? How can we say we love one another and how can we desire to have everyone in Heaven when we’d rather talk about someone than help him. How would this woman who witnessed this do that? She needs to bring along her husband, and the two of them talk with this person. Maybe things were not as bad as they were assumed. Maybe they were worse. The spirit of restoration is the idea of wanting to help someone.
Fourth, the assumption was made by all of these people that the leaders of the congregation knew about all of this. They were being accused of sitting on the sidelines and doing nothing. It may well be that they didn’t know about this. Leaders are not able to read hearts like Jesus could. They do not watch our every movement. So, while we know things, they may not.
Fifth, as this story spins more and more out of control, the number of upset people continues to escalate. A lot of loose talking, cheap shots and judgmental attitudes could have been prevented had the first person followed the steps in our passage today. The one who is spiritual is not to tell others and then others and yet still more. The spiritual one has a responsibility to go and restore. Paul did not say, ‘unless you have elders, and then you don’t have to do this.’ That clause is not found here. Leaders or not. Elders or not. We are in this together and we need to help one another. Spreading things only makes it harder for the guilty person to do what is right. The more we talk about rather than talking to, the more the problem grows.
We don’t like doing what this passage says because it’s risky and messy and puts us on the very front lines where shots could be taken at us. Talking to others is much safer and easier. Rather than saving a soul, our actions can close the door on him because too many people are talking about him.
A Christian walks into a bar…let’s get the facts first. Let’s go to the source. Let’s find out what’s going on. Let’s try to help. The steps of restoration work when we follow what God says.
Good things for us to remember.