Lifting our Burdens

Caught in Sin
Galatians 6:1 ESV

“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.”

Who is this referring to? It is speaking of our fellow believers in Jesus Christ. If any one of our fellow believers in Christ happens to fall into sin, and is overtaken by sin, or is literally caught in the act of committing a sin or a sinful course, then this is what our approach should be with that person.

First of all, we need to make certain we don’t have a log in our own eyes before we proceed to help a brother or sister in Christ take the speck out of their own eyes. For, the blind can’t lead the blind to full sight. If we ourselves are overtaken in a sin, we can’t help others to get free from their sinful behaviors. So, first we need to clean up our own lives.

Nonetheless, I would not recommend that someone who has just recently been overtaken in a sin be the one to help restore another overtaken (caught) in a sin, for the temptation would be too great to return to sin or to even lead the other into even deeper sin. For, I believe when it says here, “you who are spiritual” it refers to those who are walking according to the Spirit and who are not walking according to the flesh.

Also, I would caution against males helping females, and vice versa. Especially those who are married should not be trying to help someone of the opposite sex. Even pastors can fall into sin trying to help someone of the opposite sex to be restored back to a right relationship with the Lord. We need to be very wise in this, and we need to guard our hearts against falling into sin ourselves. Our hearts may be in the right place in wanting to help others, but we need to exercise much wisdom and caution, too.

So, those who are walking according to the Spirit, and who are not struggling with (as in regularly giving in to) sin themselves should restore the one who has fallen into sin. And, to restore is not to just give the other person a pat on the back and to tell them that God loves them and so they are ok. God does love us, for real, but because he loves us he died for us on that cross that we might be delivered from our slavery to sin, not so that we could continue on in our sin unhindered and without guilt (Rom. 6:1-23).

So, restoring means helping that person back to a walk of faith according to the Spirit of God, and to help that person to know how to overcome temptation to sin in the future so that they don’t fall into that same trap of sin again. And, so it would be to check up on that person, too, to see how they are doing and to encourage them in the Lord in their walk of faith.

But, this must be done with gentleness. And, gentleness is not weakness or powerlessness, but it is power under reserve or controlled strength. For, if we are going to help others out of sin and into walking in righteousness and to not return to that same sin again, we can’t be weak on sin. We can’t be apologetic about the truths of scripture, either. We have to speak the truth in love, and we have to be emphatic about what needs to be done to ensure that we don’t fall back into the trap of the devil and be overtaken again.

But, know this! There are people who profess faith in Jesus Christ who are still living in addiction to sin, who don’t really want out of their addiction. They may confess wrong doing, and they may act as though they want to change, but they are not willing to relinquish control of their lives over to God. Self is still on the throne of their lives. So, they may be in a “sin, confess” cycle of repeating the same sins over and over and over again.

Many of those who are living this way are users and manipulators, and they will try to drag you down with them. So, be wise and discerning, for not everyone is who they say they are. Not everyone tells the truth. There are many liars and deceivers in the world. So, pray always for God to give you insight and wisdom. And, remember to speak the truth in love, and sometimes that means with “gentle force.”

Bear Others’ Burdens
Galatians 6:2-3 ESV

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

We need to be people who are compassionate towards others who are going through hard times or who have been caught in a sin, but we need to exercise that compassion with much wisdom and discernment, as was previously mentioned. For, being tough on sin, and speaking the truth in love does not mean we are not compassionate people. The opposite may actually be true.

Take Jesus, Paul, Peter and John for examples. They were all compassionate people. They cared about what others were going through. They reached out and helped people in their times of need. But, they didn’t go light on sin in order to make people feel good about themselves, for that wouldn’t help anyone. It was because they loved others with God’s love that they spoke the truth in love, and that they addressed sin issues in full frankness, and that they did not give people an out for continued sinful courses.

So, bearing one another’s burdens does not mean we go soft on sin, or that we don’t speak the truth in love to them. For, if truly we are bearing their burdens, we will feel the weight of their sin, and we will feel the heaviness of their burdens, and we will have such compassion towards them that we will want to share the truth with them that will set them free!

If the burden they are carrying is not a burden of sin, but the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a job, or need of money to pay a bill, or help with something, or they may be someone who is being abused or taken advantage of in some way, we need to care about their circumstances deeply as though we are going through that ourselves. And, that should lead us to inquire of the Lord as to how we can best help them.

But, again, we must exercise much caution and discernment here, for not everyone is on the “up and up.” And, we can be taken advantage of if we are not careful. So, we just need to pray for much wisdom and for the Lord to lead us into what he wants us to do or to say to help those in need who are carrying these burdens.

If our fellow believers are going through hard times and trials, we need to encourage them in the Lord and in His Word, too. For, we can help some, for sure, but their real help comes from the Lord who is the only one who can comfort their hearts and mend their damaged emotions and heal their diseases. He is the only one who can truly lift their burdens from their hearts, and who will take the weight of them on himself, and who will fill them with his peace and with his calm reassurance.

Testing Our Own Work
Galatians 6:4-5 ESV

“But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.”

If God is going to use us in the lives of others to help them, we need to be humble in our own estimation. We need to have fair and honest evaluations of our own selves, and not think more highly about ourselves than we ought. But, this doesn’t mean we go around putting ourselves down all the time. That is not true humility. That is inverted pride. For, it still centers on self.

And, I am not talking here about being honest about ourselves and our own failures, but I am talking about comments which draw attention to ourselves and which open the door for others to respond “Oh, you are fine,” or “You are really a good person,” and the like. We should not go around self-abasing, i.e. belittling and degrading ourselves. That is not being humble.

Again, true humility has to do with being honest with ourselves and not thinking about ourselves in a manner which is not true. And, it is not self-focused, but it is God-focused, and it is focused on helping others at the cost of our own desires or time or resources or reputations, too.

And, we should not compare ourselves to others, either, whether to make ourselves seem lowlier, or whether to make ourselves appear superior. For, it is not about us in contrast to someone else. It is about us and our relationships with Jesus Christ and whether or not we are obeying him, and whether or not we are walking according to his plan for our lives or if we are still living to please our own flesh.

So, this applies, as well, to those whom we may be trying to help if they come back to us with “You just think you are better than me.” It is not about us and them or them and us. It is about Jesus and how we measure up to his standards. It is about knowing Jesus and doing his will, and obeying him, and walking in his ways, according to his standards, not ours.

For, if we are going to help lift anyone’s burdens, we have to point them to Jesus. And, to know Jesus is to obey his commandments. For, God’s love for us is not just that we be forgiven our sin, but that we be delivered out of our slavery to sin and that we now become slaves of his righteousness (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24).

Do You Know My Jesus?

William F. Lakey, 1956
V.B. Vep Ellis, 1957

Do you know my Jesus?
Do you know my friend,
Have you heard He loves you,
And that He will abide till the end?

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