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The pastoral nature of grace

by Danny Mihailovic last modified Jan 22, 2016 01:10 PM
Galatians 6:1-5

To be spiritual demands a gracious application of the mind and heart towards those in the body of Christ who seem to be weak or caught up in sin.  There is a sense in which we can easily gloat over failure, particularly the failure of others when they are overtaken by sin.  How easily we fall into the pharisaic mode of judgment when a poor brother or sister fails to live up to the standard of God’s word.

Consider our day and age and all of the temptations that wait for you, lurking in the clear light of day and not in the dark anymore: movies, TV, games, books, computers, which no longer attempt subtle techniques in order to bring lurid images to our minds.  For example, once upon a time it was difficult to access sexually explicit material.  It was as rare as contraband.  However, in the present social demise of our world, the dark world of addiction hands it all to us on a plate without condemnation except when we get caught.  Then in order to maintain respectability, society condemns the wicked perpetrator who has been caught with whatever it is that insults and offends everyone, while continuing to commit adultery and to legalise all forms of wickedness - and call it progress.

Undoubtedly, the law of the land must be upheld as God would command us to uphold it, but this does not change the human heart and its propensity to judge all forms of criminality while simultaneously failing to see that by its indulgence in breaking God’s law it confirms its hypocrisy as it judges others.  In the church, we are to be diligent in dealing with sin.  But, be careful says Paul that you do not judge so harshly, that you yourself overlook the fact of your own weakness, forgetting that you too have feet of clay (my paraphrase).

If we have been shown grace we must also show grace.  That is not to say we must condone sin in any form.  To the contrary, sin should be confessed and dealt with for the sake of our sanctification.  The idea in this text is primarily concerned with how we help someone caught up in sin to be restored to God and to the church.  Each one of us has to deal with our own burdens, true enough, but the heart of the gospel reveals itself by Christians helping their brothers and sisters in Christ, carry their burdens; to alleviate those burdens where possible as Christ has done for us and continues to do for us.

If our minds and hearts could be spread out like a tablecloth for all to see, then none of us would make judgments of each other for all would have a case against one another.  So it is best to confess to the Lord; ask for divine strength to combat the temptations; speak to one you can trust and be accountable.  And if there is a case where you know of a member of the body of Christ who is caught up in sin, bear that person’s burden.  Examine your own heart.  Isolation in sin leads to more isolation which leads to complete isolation.  Those who are spiritual, show grace; be gracious; be like Christ, not hiding from the problems of those around Him but dealing graciously, firmly and with great compassion.  That is a spiritual man.