by David Sisler
Sheila and Nancy were college roommates. Like most young people living away from home for the first time, they were glad to throw off a few "housekeeping" restraints. Since there was no parent around to say, "Clean your room," they didn't.
Near the end of the year Nancy's parents visited their daughter. In typical mother fashion, Nancy's Mom said, "Honey, you'll never get that floor clean!"
Several days later, Nancy called home. "Mom," she said proudly, "we mopped the kitchen. You still stick to the floor, but now it doesn't pull your socks off."
Paul wrote like a pastor when he addressed the Galatians. "Brothers," he wrote, "someone in your group might be overtaken in a fault. You who are spiritual should restore him gently. Show a gentle spirit, not a spirit of superiority, because some day you, too, may be tempted to sin."
The word Paul used for "overtaken" paints a vivid, unmistakable word picture. It comes from a word which means "to eat before others have an opportunity." The word is used to express a slip which might occur on an icy road or a treacherous path. It conveys the idea that there was no prior thought of sinning, there was no premeditation. A quick, powerful sudden impulse presented itself and the individual reacted by sinning.
Paul warned of two dangers. The first is, the very best of Christian men and women slip up. It is not done deliberately, but like a hungry man devouring food before others can join the banquet, it happens without warning. The second danger comes to the person who uncovers the slip. There is an element of hardness in most of us and we might be tempted to judge harshly.
The men and women who have been saved out of the most wicked of lives know the seriousness of falling back into their past sins. They know their socks can cling to a sticky floor. Sinful activities and life-styles once dominated their lives. If they do fall back into sin, they are afraid to tell anyone, afraid to ask for help because of the fear of criticism.
Imagine an alcoholic who has given his heart to God and dried out. Later, in a moment of weakness, he takes another and then another and winds up drunk. Or a homosexual who has given his heart to Jesus Christ and has been straight for longer than even he thought possible. In a moment of weakness, he goes to one of the old hang-outs and sins again. There is no pain like the anguish of a sensitive conscience – a conscience which knows sin has entered a life which so desperately wants to be clean.
Don't minimize sin. Don't say, "It doesn't matter." Don't tamper with the labels. We call it a fib, God calls it a lie. We call it creative accounting, God calls it stealing. We call it love, God calls it lust.
Don't give in to excuses. Don't deceive yourself into justifying your actions. Don't rationalize on the basis of circumstances. Your first steps off of the sticky floor is to admit you failed.
Paul also spoke to "you that are spiritual." If you see a Christian fall, restore him gently. The word "restore" was used outside of the Bible to describe a doctor performing life-saving surgery. It is too easy to criticize, withdraw fellowship or lose interest. Forget yourself, your prejudices, and restore.
Do it gently. If you think in your heart, "I would never stoop so low," that attitude will be conveyed to the person who has slipped. In point of fact, you do stoop, you have fallen. If you are a believer today, it was because someone reached out to you gently and with compassion. If you become overconfident, you will next become careless. And you, too, will fall.
If your heart is sensitive, your duty is to restore, gently, because "there but for the grace of God go I." If your socks were the ones stuck to the floor, you'd want help, not condemnation!
Copyright 2002 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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