Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Galatians 6:1
I’ve written previously of the necessity of appropriate boundaries when interacting with a friend or family member who is struggling with addiction. To prevent being caught up in the destruction ourselves, it’s often necessary to create some space from the one addicted. That doesn’t mean that we completely abandon the one struggling though. We do have some responsibility to those friends and family who are wrestling with self-destructive behaviors.
In today’s passage, Paul told the Galatians that when they see a brother or sister falling into sinful behavior, they have an obligation to go to that individual, gently confronting them, in an effort to turn them around. In the next sentence (tomorrow’s blog) Paul did warn them against being caught up in the destruction themselves (creating boundaries), but in today’s passage, he taught that they were accountable to those friends and family who were struggling.
This isn’t easy. When we see someone making poor choices, it’s far easier to err in one of two directions. Either we’re too gentle, simply ignoring the problem – Who am I to judge? Or, we go too far the other way, cutting him or her out of our lives, maybe even engaging in hateful gossip. What a loser! Paul however, said we can’t simply ignore the problem. It isn’t being judgmental to call destructive behavior destructive, but neither is it an option to treat the individual with hostility. We can and must confront the one struggling in a spirit of gentleness. We must do this for others, and we must allow others to do this for us.
For me, this must be purposeful. Weekly, I meet with a group of guys who’ve all struggled in different ways. We meet to share our past struggles and to talk about what we’re going through today. Sometimes it will be me who is headed down the wrong path. Sometimes it will be another member of the group. It’s the responsibility of all of us to gently confront each other when this happens. We’re often blind to our own flaws but we’re quite adept at seeing them in others. We must use this to our advantage, speaking into the lives of others and allowing them to speak into ours.
We’re not to get caught up in the self-destruction of those around us, but neither can we ignore it. If we truly follow Christ we do have some responsibility to gently confront those who’re wandering, in an effort to restore them to God’s path.