The Word of God tells us in I Timothy 4:12b (KJV), “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” I recently reflected on this scripture as I thought about an occurrence. Some time ago, a sister-in-Christ, “Cindy” (not her real name) came to me to talk about the behavior of another believer. For approximately forty-five minutes, Cindy excoriated the believer who was experiencing growing pains in their walk with the Lord and may have sinned. At the end of Cindy’s “soliloquy” on righteous living I asked her this question, “What are you going to do to assist the sister with restoration?” Cindy look puzzled and said, “the Word of God is clear on this issue. This woman is just sinning and she knows what the scripture says.”
There are times when a believer-in-Christ is exposed doing wrong or pursuing a path of behavior that scripture does not support. When this happens, the response is usually one of judgment, condemnation and “see, I told you so” from other believers. However, the Lord lovingly exhorts his people, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Gal 6:1, KJV).
I explained to Cindy that there is nothing in the scripture that says, “compromise with sin.” However, when a believer has fallen short, the love of God in action, dictates that the objective of our exhortation should be one that encourages ceasing from wrong doing, healing and restoration. The healing and restoration must include a ceasing from any behavior or actions that the Word of God condemns, but we must push for restoration and not simple condemnation. Consider Jesus’ encounter with a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. After inquiring as to where her condemners were, the Lord of Creation said to this woman, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (Jn 8:11b, KJV). There is no question that the woman’s actions were inconsistent with righteous living. Nevertheless, Jesus did not simply stop at telling her she was wrong. Jesus had an interest in her cessation from active sinning, getting healed and walking in restoration. A favorite song of my late father’s was a selection by the gospel group, The Jackson Southernaires. The song simply said, “Don’t look down on a man unless you’re picking him up.”
It is my desire that we in the church stop equating compassion and restoration with compromise. This is the pink elephant in the room. The laziest thing we can do as Christians is to condemn without offering a path of restoration and healing. In our condemnation, we should always seek a path that allows the wrong doer to be restored. Now, sometimes during the healing and restoration process, the wayward believer may have to be relieved of duties in the church as they focus their energy on healing and restoration but that does not always mean permanent relief from their position and duties. In these matters I would hope that the local pastor would counsel and seek guidance from God as to what should be done with an individual whose public sin may have congregational repercussions.
Always remember, God never throws us away; and therefore, we should not dismiss other believers who have fallen as being washed up and good for nothing. When true repentance and healing takes place, the grace of God is often manifested as never before. The Words of the prophet are most encouraging: “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm,” (Joel 2:25, KVJ). Agape.