Do you have friends that feel the liberty to bring things to your attention that are not reflective of living the Christian life? You might be saying, thanks, but no thanks. I don’t want anyone delving into my life and pointing out faults/flaws – I’ve got enough issues of my own. The truth is Scripture points to the wisdom of having friends that carry out restoration, reproof or correction. In addition, the Bible says matter-of-factly that the individual who does not like correction is stupid (Proverbs 12:1). Ouch!
This morning at Van Buren Baptist Church I preached on “how to restore a fallen brother” from Galatians 6:1-2. Apparently, within the Galatian Church someone had committed a sin or trespass (New King James Version) and Paul was addressing the issue by telling the Galatian believers who should restore the brother and how they should restore the brother. The passage begs the question, are there those that should not restore a brother? The answer is yes. Too many times Christians do a poor job of this. The “of this” is referring to the Christian who feels its his or her job to play the role of the Holy Spirit in other people’s life, when in fact, that responsibility is well, uhh, the Holy Spirit’s. Not that we don’t play an intricate part at times, but too many of us play too much of a part. We think of Matthew 7 and seek to get the “log” out of our own eye, but fail to take into consideration other passages of Scripture that speak to this issue. From Galatians 6:1-2 I believe Paul tell us a couple things: (1) True restoration has specific requirements. (a) You must be spiritual and not fleshly, (b) you must restore with a spirit of gentleness, and (c) you must examine your own life. (2) True restoration points to Jesus. So naturally, the individuals who do not fit this restoration-profile doesn’t have any business going to another brother or sister. Why? Because their own life isn’t in a position that lends spiritual credibility. Obviously, there are exceptions to this, but in principle there is a right way to carry out restoration or correction.
However, the end-game is never restoration in-and-of-itself; it’s about pointing people (believers) back to a right fellowship with the Son and subsequently, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
This past week I had two such conversations. Both of the conversations were over minimal issues; nothing immoral, serious or flagrant, just a couple close friends who brought some things I had said to my attention. They did so with fear and trembling, not because of my potential response but because no one likes to point out spiritual shortcomings in anyone’s life, particularly someone you love and are close to…in fear that it might damage the friendship; but that’s exactly the type of “stuff” you need in a close friendship and it’s definitely the “stuff” that defines a close friendship. And truth-be-told, those types of friends are gifts from God (James 1:17). So to those two men in my life who called me this past week, I want to say, uhh, write…thanks. Thanks for speaking truth in my life, but more importantly thanks for the “spirit” in which you did it.