Chapter 6:1-5 (ESV) - Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, 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. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.
Question to consider: How does Paul say we should deal with the sin of our brothers and sisters in Christ?
Paul began the last chapter by saying that we were set free through Christ and not bound to the law because Christ had fulfilled the law for us. He then followed it up by saying that we should not use that freedom as a license to indulge our fleshly desires but to serve one another in love. To keep from succumbing to these desires, Paul told us to walk with the Spirit who produces good fruit in us. We do this through our focus on spiritual things like studying God’s word, prayer, and fellowship with other believers.
Now that we’ve learned how to avoid gratifying the desires of the flesh, Paul focuses on what it means to serve one another in love. If we are walking in the spirit and thus spending time with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are going to notice when they are falling into sin. Truthfully, it is often easier to see sin in others than in ourselves because our pride can serve as a blind spot that keeps us from seeing our own faults. That’s why Paul says, “... if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” The apostle John drives home this same point in 1 John 1:8, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
This is why we should approach others about sin with a spirit of gentleness out of a desire to restore them to a right relationship with God. Nobody likes to be called out on their sin, least of all from someone who is hypocritically falling into sin themselves or from someone who only points out your sin to feel better about themselves. So Paul is telling us that we should examine our own lives and deal with our own failings to see if we are the right person to gently restore our brother or sister.
Additionally, serving one another in love means that we are there for each other. We rejoice in the blessings of our fellow believers and share in their burdens and grief. In this we fulfill the new command given to us by Jesus in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Our loving Lord who set us free from sin and death, help us to walk with your spirit and faithfully love and serve one another. If we do need to approach someone about their sin, please help us to do it with your mercy and gentleness so that they may be cleansed and restored and find joy in their relationship with you. If someone loves us enough to gently show us our sin, help us to let go of our pride and restore to us the joy of your salvation. Amen.