Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Risk and Reward – Restoring a Brother

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Loving and serving people takes self-sacrifice, courage, strength and sometimes requires risk. As Christians we are called to minister to the lost, the sick, the newborns in Christianity and even to those who have been in Christ but are struggling for one reason or another. This world is messy. Sin abounds. People’s lives are not always nice and tidy. There is pain, illness, depression, poverty, addiction, abandonment and temptation. These and more leave people wounded, dirty and broken….just as we were at some point.

Ministering to hurt and broken people requires more than Sunday morning smiles. I don’t say that to be offensive or snide, but really just to state what is very much true. Sunday morning pats on the back, even with the obligatory greeting, is not going to fulfill the law of Christ, which is so very much deeper.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in transgression (sin, iniquity, doing something wrong), you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2 –

In this verse in Galatians, we see that someone is caught in sin. They’ve messed up. We can assume this person is a Christian brother because it says we should “restore” him. That means he is in Christ but fell away into sin. He messed up. He made a bad choice, or a series of bad choices, that put him in a very bad place with the Lord and his church family. God says if someone does this, those who are stronger in the Lord and able to withstand the temptation of being dragged down into sin with this person, should restore him…bring him back to a right place with God. How?

Well, that Greek word for “restore” is the word “katartizō”  and it means, “to render something/someone as fit, sound, complete, mended, put in order, repair, to strengthen, perfect, complete, and make one what he ought to be.” That’s a pretty tall order. Most people today would say that it’s impossible to fix someone. Well, that’s true. In my humble opinion, there must be three conditions in place before a spiritually sound person can restore a weaker brother/sister in the Lord:

1. Restoration must be powered and filled by the Holy Spirit. We need God to do the work through us. We are incapable in ourselves to do it. The Spirit of God must do it and we are honored to be used by Him in power. If we try to do any work in our own flesh, it will fail. We need God to be at the helm and in the midst and guiding each step.

2. The weaker brother/sister must be willing to be restored. We cannot force another person to seek God. If he is not willing to turn to God, to accept help, to be open to grace and mercy and restoration, we are limited. We can, however, labor in prayer with great fervency for this person. We can encourage with the Word of God and with spiritual songs and words of wisdom. We can make it abundantly clear that we are always here to help and that we will never give up on our brother or sister in the Lord.

3. We must take a risk. Helping someone often requires risk. What kind of risk? Well, it depends on the circumstances. Sometimes the risk is putting yourself out there only to be rejected. Sometimes we risk broken hearts should restoration not be accomplished despite our efforts and prayers. We may risk being hurt in other ways. When you spend time with broken people, and with those in sin, you may fall victim to the consequences of that person’s sin. A thief may steal from you. A violent man may strike you. Your life may be turned upside down for a while. There are risks. You must decide if you can handle the risk.

Right after we read about restoration there in Galatians, we read that we are to bear one another’s burdens. We are to literally take their problems, their pain, their needs and put them upon ourselves. We are to care as much about them as we care for ourselves. Pretty tall order! Thank God we have the ability to take those burdens and our own and leave them at the feet of Jesus, amen?! We are fulfilling Christ’s law by loving people enough to bear their burdens…even if they don’t deserve it in the least.

so we are to bear one another’s burdens and restore a broken brother or sister to the Lord. This requires risk, self sacrifice and often pain. It requires laboring. Is it worth it? Is it worth the risk? Is it worth the pain if it’s not even guaranteed to work? I mean, what’s the reward anyways? And what if the person fails time after time? How many times do we forgive and keep trying?

““If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Matthew 18:15

“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22.

How many times do we forgive? Well, how many times has God forgiven you and me of our many bonehead mistakes and flat our rebellious sins? How many times has He had grace and mercy? How long until He gives up on us? Did we deserve another chance? Do we still? Wow, how the tables turn when  it’s about us and God. Church, we are supposed to be laboring for one another. We are supposed to be serving and loving til it hurts. If there’s no pain, we aren’t loving enough. We aren’t risking enough. We aren’t giving enough. For a fallen brother or sister in the Lord who repents and asks for help, we will put our arms around this one and help time after time after time after time when he falls. We will labor at restoration by the Spirit of God. We will forgive. We will risk.

So what’s the reward? We read it there in Matthew 18:15. If restoration works, we’ve gained a brother. What better reward i that? I love my brothers and sisters in the Lord. I love the lost who God has put in my life. I love the people I fellowship with and get to minister to. Gaining one of these back to the Lord and back into the fold is worth the risk. It’s worth putting my comfort aside. It’s worth risking being hurt or used. It’s worth offering undeserved grace and mercy time after time. It’s worth it all. Jesus thought so too…that’s why He died for me and you and every broken-down, fallen man and woman. It’s worth the risk.

We are called to help. We are called to restore. By the power of the Spirit of God, all things are possible. No one is beyond His reach. We are called to go beyond what is safe and comfortable. We are called beyond what is considered to be the normal of popular opinion. We are called to a more extravagant, radical kind of ministry.

And when that brother is restored to the Lord, all of heaven rejoices and our heavenly Father looks down with great joy and pleasure! Yes, it’s worth it!

A Single Tear via photopin (license)

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