The silence is uncomfortable. This was not in your mind when you extended the invitation for dinner to your friends. You have rearranged the silver place setting for the fifth time since the conversation started. As you raise your eyes, you see your friend’s wife wipe away her tears. Her husband is staring out the dining room window. The gaze is hard.
Pornography makes a poor dinner companion. They have taken the opportunity to disclose what she has discovered on their laptop. It is vile, messy, and destructive. You rush a prayer silently to the Holy Spirit with the realization they need you to help them. With pulse racing you begin to speak.
It’s an amazing concept, isn’t it? While it is an obvious concept, we often are surprised by who sins, aren’t we? Somehow we are always shocked when it shows up in our church, our family, or our own marriage. “…brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression…”
Here’s the sobering reality: the Apostle Paul penned these words because sinners sin. This, at first, might seem depressing but remember who our God is. He does not leave us in our sin and resulting consequences. He has not abandoned us, or our dinner companions. God graciously identifies our struggle and provides a divine plan to remedy it. So, what will you do?
The fact that your heart sank into your gut when the conversation took place reminds you of the impact that sin has on us all. In a glimpse, you have seen the destructive force of iniquity. Your duty as a spiritual brother is restoration. “…you who are spiritual should restore him…”
Why you? You are qualified because you have the Spirit of God indwelling you. While not perfect, you are walking in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16-23) Being spiritual is a vital part of this restoration process. And the fruit of the Spirit will come into play.
Your prayer to the Spirit of God is not in vain. While volcano-like emotions may surge through your heart, it is the fruit of the Spirit that surfaces as you again re-arrange your fork and spoon. “…in a spirit of gentleness…”
You react and speak as one who understands their own frail human condition. It is not out of a sense of superiority that you counsel. You speak as one who is not overly impressed with themselves at all. You are a recipient of grace, and therefore, you are a minister of grace. Gentleness is a key component of any manner of biblical confrontation.
As the details unfold, you readily see how enticing the sin is. The temptation looms large and surreal. The Apostle Paul reminds his readers that, while spiritual, there is a warning that must be heeded in the midst of biblical soul care: “…keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted…”
Sitting across the table from your friends, you may be tempted to think you could never fall so far so fast. This is precisely why Paul says what he says here, and says something similar in 1 Corinthians 10:12. Why is it important to pay careful attention to ourselves when counseling? Because we recognize two things about ourselves: the power of temptation in our own lives and the necessity for ongoing biblical change in our own lives. When we speak the gentle grace of restoration into our friends’ lives, we listen to it ourselves as well.
The Loving: Bear the Burden
This type of interaction with a friend or loved one is not easy. While it may not be easy, it is something every Christian is called to. The Apostle makes it clear that confrontation, done in a way that is pleasing to Christ, is hard work. “…Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ…”
We understand this idea of burden-bearing to mean that it is difficult ministry. In fact, the word “bear” has the notion of bearing anything that is burdensome. It is used in Luke 14:27 by Christ in reference to carrying your cross daily.
The task of biblical confrontation with the goal of restoration cannot to be approached haphazardly. It is hard. It requires dependence on the Spirit. It must be entered into by means of prayer and careful thought.
The word “burden” also has the understanding of something that is particularly oppressive. To come alongside someone and to wade into the filth of their sinful choices with the goal of restoration will require broad shoulders and a strong back. Counseling is just that hard. You will not be steadfast in this type of biblical counseling unless you have the right motivation. And that will be the final aspect of this passage we will consider.
Fulfill the Law
What will it be that will keep you interacting with your friends, seated across from you at your dinner table, long after they have gone home? It won’t be superior Bible knowledge. It won’t be a winsome personality. It won’t be fantastic communication skills. It will be the motivation in your heart to fulfill the law of Christ. What is that law? Love God. Love your neighbor.
A heart set on pleasing God at all costs and a love for those around you will be what keeps you in that conversation. It will allow you to tackle the difficult subjects and cause you to compassionately minister grace into the lives of others. Any other motivation is idolatry. You counsel because you love God and others.
I pray that as you continue in conversation with your friends that Galatians 6 comes to mind often. The recognition of who they are, who you are in Christ, the fruit that is developing in you, the realization of common temptation and the motivation of Christ will serve you well in counseling. May God use his Word, by his Spirit, to effect change in our lives and the lives of those to whom we minister.
Join the Conversation
Have you ever struggled with knowing that God is calling you to minister to others through biblical confrontation? What aspect of Galatians 6:1-2 do you find the most difficult to implement in your own life? Have you thought of other Bible passages that speak to the ministry of restoration? What are they?