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Love One Another
Ten Keys to Experiencing Life in a Supernatural Community
We've all heard the thought-provoking challenge to face life's decisions asking, "What would Jesus do?" But what if we were to live each moment in light of Jesus' "new" commandment to "love one another" - as He has loved us? What would happen within our homes and churches if we took seriously His instructions to foster authentic, caring relationships? This series explores the powerful possibilities of lives lived according to the radical "one anothers" of the New Testament.More from this series
Few things in all the world will tell a church as much about where its heart is at and how mature we are than how we respond to open, blatant sin in the camp.
When there is something happens in the life of the church, I don’t mean different perspectives and could this be right or maybe? But, it is black and white, you know it’s wrong, how a church responds to that really tells you a lot about it.
In fact, I’d go one further. I would suggest that how you respond and how I respond to open, blatant sin in our relational network among other Christians will tell you a lot more about your heart and your own maturity than maybe you ever want to know.
See, what I have observed over the years… you meet with pastors all over the place, you meet with people, you read. When it comes to something that happens in the life of a church where it’s bad and people make some big, bad decisions that reverberate through a group, there are normally two responses.
In fact, usually they are extremes. Exhibit A I call, “Passive Indifference.” I remember being a young Christian, I was in West Virginia in a little church and there was a real key leader. Everyone looked up to him. And out of the blue, it was one of those classic stories.
But I had only been a Christian a couple, maybe three years at the most. And he left town with another woman and left a wife and a couple, three kids. And it was one of these slam dunk, just - whoa!
But no one ever said anything. People would talk about it here and you’d hear people talk about it in the halls over here. And someone else would say something here. And I was kind of naïve and kind of dumb and I’d only been in the Bible for a couple years so I thought, “Well, I’ll just go to the people who are supposed to know.”
And so I went to one of the leaders and a pastor, I said, “I kind of hear second, third, fourth hand – this guy that we all really respect – now, is that story true? Did he just bail on his family and is involved in a immoral affair with another person?”
He said, “Yeah, that’s true.” I said, “Well, what do you do about that?” And I’ll never forget this leader, pastor, they just sort of shrugged their shoulders and said, “It’s a shame, isn’t it?” And I thought to myself, “You know, I’m not the most mature guy,” and I have never even heard the words “church discipline,” and I have no idea what the right, godly response ought to be to those kind of situations. But I just have an inkling that I didn’t hear it right then either.
The opposite extreme I call Exhibit B, instead of “Passive Indifference,” it’s, “Painful Insensitivity.” This happened in a small, little town in Texas. And a similar situation, not nearly as dramatic or drastic but it was outside the clear, moral boundaries – a little iffy.
But there was a lady that became the object, not only of a church’s but of an entire community’s scorn and wrath. I mean, if you wanted to, if you wanted to write a movie about, “Let’s make Christians look as ugly, as mean, as heartless, and doing something completely not out of love,” you could have seen it here.
I remember a couple, three years later sitting with this woman in a coffee shop type setting with a small group of other people. And I asked her about this situation and she was the one, they did everything but kind of brand the letter “A,” a scarlet letter, on her chest. And that wasn’t the case.
And she said, “You know, I would walk in a drug store, I would walk in the grocery store, and people would give me the kind of looks and they would turn away in such a way that I have never felt, not like I had done something wrong, but like I was the devil incarnate.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but it seems that those two extremes are probably not God’s way to deal with people that have fallen.
We all struggle, we all make mistakes, and if we’re really going to love one another, is not only how do you love people when they are well, how do you love people when they fall. I don’t mean a little bit, when they just flat blow it, what’s the response?
And so rather than those two extremes, what I’d like to do is walk through what Jesus would say. In fact, what He did say about these situations.
Once you go through the steps of conflict resolution and you really try to preserve the unity but the people go south, they just won’t hear of it, here’s the way Jesus said we should handle those situations.
Step one is a private conference. When you know or if I know, someone who has really dropped the ball, has fallen, it says, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault.” Just between the two of you. “If he listens to you, you have won your brother.” Ninety percent of the time, that’s all it takes. Ninety percent of the time, people who make a mistake and they are moving in a bad direction, a close, trusted, loving friend, it’s amazing what that will do and it’s also amazing how rarely we do it.
Second step, if you go to them and there’s no movement, step two, small group confrontation. “But if he will not listen, take one or two others along so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
Now notice the legal terms there: Testimony and witnesses. This is not get a big group of people to gang up on someone to guilt them into doing what’s right.
This has the idea of testimonies, witnesses, objectivity, establishing the credibility, make sure that this is exactly what happened. Make sure all the facts are correct, make sure that all parties agree that this is, in fact, the data in question.
Third, if after the small group confrontation doesn’t work, there is public disclosure, verse 17, first half, “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.” In a real small church like where I came from in West Virginia, the church is at thirty, forty, fifty, maybe a hundred people. If anyone does anything that has any kind of public notice, everybody knows about it.
And so tell it to the church would probably mean take it to that group because that’s a sphere of influence. And you take it with a heart of love and compassion that says, “Hey, Bob” or, “Mary,” or whoever it is, “are involved in this situation, it’s clearly outside of God’s will for them, I want you to pray for them, I want you to care for them, as you see them in the grocery store, if you have a personal relationship with them, go to them. Tell you love them, tell them you care, urge them, encourage them to do what they know is right.”
If that doesn’t work then the final step is public exclusion, verse 17, second half, “And if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” And the idea here is withdraw the support, the underpinning of love. The relational network, the care.
It doesn’t mean… you don’t treat unbelievers in a harsh, rude, negative manner, but you don’t have a moral responsibility to move in to meet the needs of their life.
The apostle Paul says it well. In I Corinthians chapter 5, there was a man who was involved in sexual immorality with his mother-in-law. And the church started out with passive indifference and saying, “Well, you know, who are we?” And the apostle said, “You’re the Church.”
In fact, he talks about, don’t judge other people outside the Church, but inside the Church, you have a moral responsibility.” And then Paul said something very unusual there, as though the Church provides and umbrella of protection and grace and concern he says, “I removed that one and,” literally, “turned him over to Satan that he might be buffeted.”
The idea, turn him over to the world system, let the consequences weigh on his life, and like a velvet vice, let the consequences come and bear down to the point where he says, “You know something? That was a dumb thing, I know that’s not God’s will.”
But all this is done with one purpose: To restore. And so that means it’s always done in truth and it’s always done in love and those things balance. It may be very firm but it’s never with an, “In your face.” It’s never with a pointing finger in the face. It’s a, “Look, this hurts us as much or more than you. We long to see you restored. We’re not going to go away.”
Now, here’s the good news. The good news is when we do that God’s way, not passively saying, “Oh well, what the heck, we just lost another one.” Or not with this self-righteous, thumping people in the face, but when you do it right, when you do it lovingly, when you don’t give up on people, here’s the good news: God’s way works.
The great majority of discipline situations end at steps one, two, or three. When done in love and gentleness, God uses the testimony and concern of His people to jar us out of our deceived state and return to Christ and His people.
See, when people end up in situations like this, often they just start by messing around. It’s kind of like there’s a big river and there are rapids in the middle and the current is strong but there are little coves and the water is not very deep and, it’s okay here, and you start walking over here and then pretty soon you’re playing and you don’t pay any attention and, “You know, I’m just flirting, I’m just goofing around, I mean, I’m a married man, I’m a Christian, I would never do… me? No. I’d never do that to anyone because there’s no way because I know you could really get in trouble if you ever did that,” and pretty soon you’re in the current.
And that’s the picture. They are people who are caught, people who are surprised, people who get sucked in and they realize, “Oh my gosh, what have I done?”
But if you catch them early and if you do it biblically, a great majority of the cases, people say, “Oh, thank you.” It’s like reaching a hand or throwing them a life preserver and you pull them in before they get caught in the current and go over the falls and do something really bad.
Now, here’s the question I want to ask and answer, though, today. What do you do? What do you do with that person, and let’s make it the sexual sin because it gets so much press, what do you do with the person that has stepped out and is involved in immorality of some kind? What do you do to the person who has made devastating decisions, who has broken apart families, who has done things that are… you just say, “How in the world did you get involved in that?”
And people are disappointed and people are disillusioned, and there are consequences, and the ripples – how do you restore them?
The answer is in Galatians chapter 6 verses 1 and 2. It says, “Brothers,” notice it’s written to a group, “if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” When you discover that that’s the situation he says, as a group responsibility, the spiritually mature in the group should restore this person, and notice how it should be done: Gently.
Verse 2, “Carry,” or, “bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of,” and add the word in your notes, “the Christ.” In the original text there’s an article there. “The law of the Christ,” which, what was the law of the Christ? What’s the singular law that He made? It’s John 13, “A new commandment, a new law I give unto you,” what? “that you love one another,” how? “just as I have loved you.”
So, he is saying that when we restore someone, when we take someone’s life who has been shipwrecked, they have done what they shouldn’t have done, they have blown, they know it’s wrong, everyone else knows it’s wrong, when you can restore, bring that person, not only out of the situation but to a point of fruitfulness, he says, “You have fulfilled the law of the Christ.”
What’s it mean when it says we are to restore those who have fallen? Here’s the situation. The situation in this is a fellow Christian is caught or overcome by a sin, okay?
Now, the word “caught” there, it’s a decent translation because it’s trying to capture a thought. It means “to be surprised,” literally.
The apostle Paul, in Galatians 3:19, uses the word “trespass” instead of the word that’s translated here for “sin,” and they are different words. In 3:19 it means God draws a line in the sand and says, “Thou shall not,” and you say, “You want to bet?” And you walk across it.
The word here for “a fault,” or “sin,” is a different word. In the New Testament, it has the idea of sinning but it’s a sinning that’s more like a blunder. It has the idea of you have crossed a moral boundary but it wasn’t with willful, volitional, angry intent. It’s like that person who finds himself caught or overtaken by sin, only to say, “How did I get here?”
I’ll never forget, the best picture of this in my life, it was many, many years ago. I got a phone call; I had a meeting downtown. He said, “You’ve gotta come forty-five minutes early, I gotta talk to you.”
He said, “I can’t talk on the phone, I gotta, meet me there.” So I met him in the parking lot, no one was there, I pulled in, he motioned, I got out of my car, got in his car, his face is flush.
And I said, “Man, what’s going on?” He said, “I don’t even know where to begin.” And then he begins to recount a history, he became friends with another couple and they did some things as couples and then he became friends with the other man’s wife, and they were both rather athletic and they got involved in doing some athletic type things, and played in some different things.
And so they said, “Well, you know, we’ll go out and practice a little extra,” so they went without their mates and one thing led to another, and then they talked a little bit more deeply.
And this was a Monday afternoon, I remember, because apparently Sunday afternoon they had been involved in their athletic activity, and at the end of it they sat down, began to talk, and he said, “I kissed her.” He said, “Then afterwards, and it wasn’t a little peck, and then she pulled back and she looked at me like there was fire in her eyes and she said, ‘I don’t want any half-baked affair. If we’re going to have one, I want a good one. If you’re not willing to leave your wife, your kids, marry me, and make a commitment to me, I will not be involved in this affair.’”
At least he got a good warning. And here’s a guy, a godly guy, a great wife, great kids, theologically trained, greatly used by God, and here’s a guy who, “Oh, it could never happen. I mean, we’re friends! I’m mature. She’s mature. We would never, of course not. And…”
He was one leg in the rapids, pulling him downstream, and he had the wisdom to yell for a life preserver. And so I drove down and threw him the life preserver. And by the grace of God, we not only talked, we prayed. We decided when and how he would tell his wife, we decided when and how those two couples would meet with pastors and elders of the church, we decided what it would mean long-term for ministry implications and how we would plan to have a restoration plan. And we walked through it all and he was restored.
But you know something? I wonder how he would have responded if I would have crossed my arms and said, “What?! You’ve gotta be kidding me! That’s wrong! That’s sin! I thought you were a better man than that! What is wrong with you? I can’t believe what you’re, that’s terrible.” I’ve got a feeling, two weeks later, the other foot would be in the rapids and he would be over the waterfalls.
A fellow Christian is caught or overcome by sin, that happens all the time, doesn’t it? And before we get too self-righteous, the person it may happen to next may be sitting in your seat.
The apostle Paul, in Galatians 3:19, uses the word “trespass” instead of the word that’s translated here for “sin,” and they are different words. In 3:19 it means God draws a line in the sand and says, “Thou shall not,” and you say, “You want to bet?” And you walk across it.
The word here for “a fault,” or “sin,” is a different word. It was used, before the New Testament, in the papyri to mean “to slip or to blunder unintentionally.” In the New Testament, it has the idea of sinning but it’s a sinning that’s more like a blunder. It has the idea of you have crossed a moral boundary but it wasn’t with willful, volitional, angry intent. It’s like that person who finds himself caught or overtaken by sin, only to say, “How did I get here?”
It doesn’t mean your heart might not get hard and you defend yourself and go into denial. But it means you are caught, you’re overtaken, you’re surprised.
See, a fellow Christian is caught or overcome by sin, that happens all the time, doesn’t it? And before we get too self-righteous, the person it may happen to next may be sitting in your seat.
People don’t plan to mess up their lives. People don’t plan to bail out on important relationships. People don’t plan to steal. We do really dumb things under pressure, when we’re vulnerable, and no one in this room is immune to that. So, what do we do? What’s the command?
Well, the command is the spiritually mature are to restore this believer. It’s in the present tense. Restore and keep on restoring. And notice this isn’t for everyone. You may spot the situation, you may realize this is happening, you may be the person to get this person connected to the spiritually mature. But if you’re not spiritually mature, don’t try and restore.
Because if you go back to our analogy, if they are in the rapids, what happens if you got a full grown man in the rapids and an eight-year-old girl goes in to try and pull a man out of the rapids. What do we have? We just lost two.
And that happens all the time. By the way, if you are trying to help a person of the opposite sex who has fallen and is struggling spiritually, realize your goal is to be a facilitator only. You know them just long enough to introduce them to a godly man if it’s a man, or a godly woman if it’s a woman, to get them connected to help them get restored. You try and do it yourself, you will be in big trouble. Don’t do it.
I just talked with a couple after last night’s service too, she’s a gal with the gift of mercy, really struggling here, wanting to help, wanting to help, wanting to help. Finally, I said, “Hey, honey? Wanting to help is great. You pray. But you’re not the one to help because you’ll mess up your life, his life, your marriage. Don’t go there.” The Bible is real clear. This is dangerous. It’s important but it’s dangerous.
And then it says the spiritually mature are to restore. What exactly does that mean? It means to adjust, it means to put something in order, to put back together. It means to equip or fully furnish someone for a given purpose. The basic meaning of the word, used fourteen times in the New Testament, is to restore to its former condition.
It’s not just getting them out of the rapids, it’s not getting them on the bank, it’s not just getting them dry. It’s getting them where they don’t go there anymore and they are living a fruitful, productive life.
In the New Testament, it’s used for mending of nets. Something is torn, it needs to be repaired. It’s used for the equipping of a ship, taking extra sails and extra masts, anything a ship needs. For equipping a soldier. That means his sword, his shield, everything he needs to go into battle and be productive. And finally, it’s a medical term that is used for the setting of a bone or a compound fracture. Picture something that is out of joint or dislocated.
What’s the common theme in all of those? Something is broken, get it back in a position where it can be mended, let it get fixed, put it into some kind of, instead of physical therapy, spiritual therapy where it grows in strength. Why? So that it can return to the former condition of grace and impact.
So, the goal of discipline or restoring is never punishment. It’s love. It’s not just to bail them out; it’s to help them move on. It’s not just to get the joint back together; it’s to do all the hard work that it takes for them to be fruitful again.
I blew out my knee, I had an ACL replaced. And the picture of doing rehab is really the picture of what is going on here.
If you’re going to restore someone you need a good surgeon, immediate care, and they do it. But if you have ever had any kind of major injury, people who go to physical therapy can use their joint, get full range of motion, and get strong again. People who don’t go to physical therapy have something that’s fixed that never works quite well for them again.
Because I’ll tell you what happens at physical therapy. They take a group of people and they take you through something painful that you don’t have the courage or the guts or the perseverance to do yourself.
See, one of the things when you rehab a knee is once it comes out and they put all that new stuff in there, is that when you get out of there, you can bend your knee about this far.
Now, you’re not rehabbed until you can take your heel and put it all the way on your gluteus maximus, in case you want to know the term. I can’t think of a better word in church, okay?
So, to get there, you know what happened? For weeks I did all these exercises but one of the exercises was three times a week I would go to Rod and I’d lay on my stomach and I had a pair of gym shorts on, and my leg would be up like that and he would take all of his weight and he would smile. And he would press down.
And I thought my knee cap was going to explode right off my knee, and I’m a grown man and there are all these people so you can’t wail and scream and cry like a baby!
And so I did the next best thing. I just grit my teeth and the water just flowed out of my eyes, then he’d say, “Okay, count one more,” and he did that week after week. Here’s my point, it took time, it took planning, it took commitment, it was painful, and I couldn’t do it myself. That’s what it will take to restore people.
How? What’s the method? Gentleness. Gentleness is to characterize the attitude and the process.
This is the same word, remember when Jesus, one of the few times in Scripture where He describes Himself and He says, to all of us that are weary and heavy laden, “Come to Me. Come to Me. Take My yoke upon you,” why? “because I am meek,” that’s the same word. “I am meek in heart.”
Meek is power under control. It’s used in the ancient Greek literature for a wild stallion for the process of taming it, where there is all that power, but with a small bit in its mouth, it’s under control.
That’s what we do when we restore others. We could be as tough, as firm, as strong but always with a sense of love, humility, concern, “we care,” “we are for you.” Never a pointing, loud, aggressive, “you’re a bad person,” type attitude.
So, he has told us the situation, a fellow Christian is overcome with sin. The command? Spiritually mature, restore them. The method? Gentleness. The warning? Restoration is a dangerous process, even for the mature. It says, “Watch yourself.”
It means, “Look intently at what is going on in you during this process, lest you too be tempted.” Two ways I think we get tempted here: The one is as they are in the rapids, and there’s something, I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about the human heart, even after we are born again, even after the Spirit of God comes into our life, even after we are cleansed, there is something in your heart and mine that just loves the morsely details about other people’s sin, you know what I mean?
When you walk by the checkout stand or you go by a 7-11, what are the titles? Some star’s name, “Delirious Romping Episode at Midnight Mansion.” Now, tell me if there is anyone in here that doesn’t have a tiny desire, at least once to say, not that we would be interested, of course, but “I wonder what they are talking about.”
You see, when you begin to help another person and they begin to share some things about what they went through, there’s part of you that’s the spiritual, “Oh, yeah, mm-hm, can understand that, we gotta really help you out on here, mm-hm.” And in the back of your mind there’s a, “Oooh.”
And, boy, that’s why this is only for the spiritually mature. People trained in the Scriptures. People who have a good, healthy hate for sin, people who say, “You know what? That may look juicy on the outside. It does this, it does this, it does this, it does that. It destroys people and, boy, I don’t want any part of it.”
In fact, when I talk with people, especially men with struggles in pornography and things, I say, “Guys, give me the CliffsNotes, just tell me you got a struggle. Don’t tell me, that’s all I need. I’m a visual thinker. If you need to unload some of the details,” and there are times where people need to, “I’ll get you set up with a great counselor who is trained.” I can’t go there.
Second way we are tempted is not only that we will get lured into the same sin, or and especially in these opposite sex, trying to help someone out of their sexual problems, I mean, how many pastors, how many counselors, how many times nation wide have you and I just been devastated by people that we have looked up to, that have written songs and done albums and we have read their books. And they have so blessed us.
And then we find out - what? Man, they are in the sack with someone else or they stole money or did something that you just think, “How could it be?” I’ll tell you how it could be. The great majority of the time they are doing counseling, trying to help someone else out of something like that. This is a heavy warning.
The second way, though, is we were going through this passage as elders. And because we have two to five of these going at any given time, we were reviewing it with the idea of thinking, “We want to make sure we do this right. Let’s take a fresh look at these passages,” and one elder had an awesome observation.
It has never entered my mind but it was so good I thought, I’m going to preach that. And so I am. And he said, “I think the temptation, even far greater than the, ‘We’ll get caught into their sin,’ is another temptation.” He says, “I think the temptation is to become self-righteous.” He said, “I think the temptation is to think somehow I am better than that person, somehow I’m above that, somehow I would never do that.”
And the temptation to think that they are maybe a second-class citizen in some way and not to fully forgive them the way God would want you to. And, boy, I thought of that and I thought, “You got it.” Warning: It’s a dangerous process.
Finally, verse 2 gives us the summary: “Bearing one another’s burdens involves the arduous task of confrontation, forgiveness, comfort, and loving fallen believers back to a position of fellowship and former fruitfulness. That idea – bear one another’s burdens – you know what it really means? It simply means taking on the moral responsibility for other people’s spiritual welfare.
It means I’m going to bear one another’s burdens. If I know about blatant, open sin in your life, passive indifference is not an option. I can’t just say, “Ooh, boy, it’s a shame.” Shrug my shoulders.
But the other thing I can’t do is I can’t come with some self-righteous finger saying, “I’m so disappointed in you and I can’t believe you did that and what a disgrace you are to God, family, country, apple pie, and everything we have ever stood for.” You’re going to hear that recording in your own ear when you come like that.
Bearing one another’s burdens says, “I’ll do it God’s way. But people who have actually fallen need to be loved, forgiven.” Now, they have to repent. In fact, that was the case. Turn in your Bibles, II Corinthians chapter 2.
That situation I told you about? It turned out for good. The best research I can find is that after about eight months, this fellow who was involved in immorality with his mother-in-law? He repented. He said, “I’m sorry.” He said, “I want back in the fellowship. It was grievous unto God, will you please forgive me?”
And the church had sinned. The church got to the point where they were just a little too self-righteous to let a person like that back into the church. And the apostle writes in II Corinthians chapter 2, beginning at verse 6, he says, “The punishment inflicted on him,” the man, “by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to,” listen to these verbs, “forgive and comfort him,” why? “so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you therefore to reaffirm your love for him. The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything.
“If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven, if there was anything to forgive, I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,” notice the purpose clause, last line, “in order that Satan might not outwit us; for we are not unaware of his schemes.”
See, the enemy’s job is to get the Church not to deal with sin in the right way. See, if you’re in a church and people can sin openly, blatantly, and people will shrug their shoulders, I’ll tell you what, the hand of God will not be on that church. God blesses holiness and purity.
But on the other hand, if a church gets self-righteous and, boy, you step out of line, they get legalistic, and they have this kind of attitude, I’ll tell you what, people don’t want to be restored there. It’s like shooting your wounded. God’s blessing won’t be there.
And see, what he says here is, “We’re not unaware of Satan schemes. If you let sin go, then sin is in the camp, it’ll destroy the church. If you’re unwilling to be forgiving, sin is in the camp, but now it’s the leaders. It’s just a more sanctified kind of sin. It’s a more sanitized kind of sin.”
But whether it’s an immoral situation over here or a group of leaders who are unwilling to forgive, sounds to me like it’s sin, I think Satan’s, “Heads I win, tails I win. I like this.”
And so Paul says, “What do we do?” You understand the grace of Christ. You treat him how He is treating you. With people who have come, what were the verbs? Forgive, comfort, reaffirm your love.
In fact, I would encourage you, one time this week, to jot down, I put it in the notes, Luke 15:11 through 32, read the story of the prodigal son. And read it over from the perspective of someone who knew what was right, didn’t do what was right, his life fell apart, and came to the point where he said, “You know what? I gotta do it God’s way.”
And he came back to the father. He didn’t get a father with his arms crossed saying, “Okay, give me fifty push-ups now.” He had a father who said, “I won’t let you be a slave, you must be my son.” He put sandals on his feet, a ring on his finger, a robe on his back.
God doesn’t just want to get people out of the deep. He wants to dry them off, wrap His arms around them, love them, forgive them, and restore them to fruitfulness in ministry.
But people can’t do that on their own and they can’t do it unless they are in a safe place where, one, we don’t tolerate sin, and two, we refuse to be judgmental and self-righteous.
I’d like to summarize just the major points. The first is that we serve the God of second chances. If you’re here today and have really blown it and no one knows about it yet, it’s good news for you, huh? If you’re like all the rest of us and have blown it and have already found forgiveness for it, good news for us.
You serve the God of second chances, and thirds and fourths and fifths. What’s it mean? It means we all fall to some degree at some time.
Secondly, it means we must resist our fears and insecurities that lead to passive indifference. I don’t want to confront people any more than you do. After every service I’ve had a line of people that told me their story about, “What should I do with this person?” And they know the answer and you know the answer. Get involved in their life, and love them, and tell them the truth.
Third, it means we must resist our desire for justice and self-righteous tendencies that lead to painful insensitivity. You should be angry when people let you down, you should be mad when it destroys a home and kids are hurt, you should be angry. And once you work through your anger, you need to, if they are a close friend, express it to them calmly, under control, and then forgive them. And then move on.
Fourth, we must restore, not shoot, our wounded. And finally, how can we fail to do for another, what Christ has done for us? How can we fail to do for others what Christ has done for us?