Standing with the Fallen
We all stumble in many ways
Maybe youâ€™ve noticed one or two flaws in a few of the Christians around you. (Just maybe.)
But thatâ€™s not really so surprising, right? After all, weâ€™ve got a few flaws ourselves.
If the church is supposed to be a place where hope aboundsâ€”even with sin hanging around as an all too frequent visitorâ€”our responses to one another in these inevitable moments of unworthiness are crucially important. If all we do is stand back and register our critique and frustration, rather than apply ourselves to our brother or sisterâ€™s improvement, we only cause more damage in an already destructive situation.
Scripture counsels us to take a more hopeful approach.
1) See the person in process. God isnâ€™t finished with anybody. â€œHe who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christâ€
2) Cover them. Notice I didnâ€™t say cover for them. Enabling people to escape consequences or feel entitled to their sin is not a functional equivalent of love. But to cover the individualâ€”being discreet about the matter, keeping to a minimum the people who need to know whatâ€™s going onâ€”is a loving expression of both grace and protection. â€œWhoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friendsâ€
3) Give mercy. Grace means getting what we donâ€™t deserve (the forgiving favor of God); mercy means not getting what we do deserve (an eternity separated from Him in hell). Our most logical, reflexive response to someone whose ways are running counter to the faith they professâ€”especially someone close to usâ€”is to bring down the hammer with heavy authority. But be wary of such a quick-strike approach, even if for no other reason than your own self-protection. â€œFor judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgmentâ€
4) Examine yourself. â€œBrothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also wonâ€™t be temptedâ€
As long as weâ€™re in close proximity to other believersâ€”and they with usâ€”there will be ample opportunity to notice each otherâ€™s flaws. But letâ€™s take these opportunities to help make each other better, spreading hope instead of gossip.
Lord God, You alone are perfectly good, holy, and blameless. You have set high standards, knowing our fullest blessing will only come from being totally surrendered to Your will and Your Word. But You are â€œrich in mercyâ€
For more from Dr. James MacDonald please visit Walk in the Word on OnePlace.com.