The Bible calls us to be compassionate.
It also tells us to help a fellow Christian if they are overcome by sin.
Compassion and pointing out sin don’t seem to go together, do they?
The idea of confronting another believer with a sin issue can be daunting, to say the least—especially in today’s culture.
So, what’s a well-meaning Christian to do when we are aware that a loved one or friend is living in perpetual sin?
“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” Galatians 6:1
The Bible is very clear, we are to gently and lovingly help another believer trapped in sin.
If you turn a blind eye to a fellow believer’s sin, you are enabling them to continue in sin. Enabling means you are emboldening or empowering them to sin.
Enabling someone’s sin is the same as taking an indirect part in the sin (1Tim 5:22).
The most compassionate thing we can do is come alongside and help our brother or sister—even if it’s difficult.
I remember one day my three children were playing in the backyard when I heard, “Mooommm! Kevin says he broke his arm.” Of course, I stopped what I was doing and ran to the so-called injured brother.
I took one look at Kevin’s arm and knew it was broken. The doctor confirmed, saying he had broken both bones in his forearm, and they would need to be “reset” before applying a cast. The resetting process was not going to be comfortable so Kevin would be given a sedative.
In the Galatians passage above, we are advised if another believer is overcome by sin, a godly person should gently and humbly help that person back on the right path. This means to help restore them. The original word, katartizete, signifies to set in joint, as a dislocated bone.
We are called to not only notice when another believer has gone astray but lovingly help them back on the right path. The only way to do that is to show them their brokenness caused by sin (broken bone) and point them to the healing power of the doctor, Jesus, who alone has the power to reset and restore.
The most compassionate thing I could do for my son was to let the doctor reset the bone despite the short-term discomfort. Now, imagine the long-term effects if I decided not to allow the doctor to reset my son’s arm because it was going to be painful.
Although it is not comfortable for us to do or for our friend to receive, we should not allow fear or misguided compassion to keep us from helping our brothers or sister trapped in a snare of perpetual sin.
“Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” Prov 27:6
However, there are some things we should consider before approaching our brother or sister.
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Things to Consider First:
Always talk to the Lord before confronting another believer’s sin. We must let the Holy Spirit guide our thoughts and actions. Yes, we have the Bible, but many have used the Word as “a license for a lashing”. This is unacceptable. Remember, God will not call us to do something that does not line up with His Word.
Ask yourself what your motivation is for pointing out a sin issue.
Our motivation should always be love with a desire for restoration.
If this is not the case, then you are in danger of becoming ensnared in sin yourself.
Are you spending daily time in the Word, in prayer, and living a godly life? We must first look at ourselves before approaching someone else about their sin (Matt 7:3-5).
If our walk does not reflect a life surrendered to Christ, we are in danger of the latter half of Galatians 6:1, “And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” It is important to guard ourselves against the enemy’s tactics (Eph 6:10-18). Then we will not be unaware of his schemes (2 Cor 2:11).
Is there another believer in your life who has wandered down the wrong path and is in need of your gentle and loving guidance back?
And certainly, before approaching a person about his or her sin, we need to carefully look at ourselves (you know, the mote in the brother’s eye and the plank in ours). Praying about the situation is key, too, Beckie, as you’ve pointed out here, and so is correcting someone in love and compassion.
Martha, I know this is a tough subject, but one that we need to address in a Christ-like manner. You are so spot-on in saying we must carefully look at our own lives first. I even went back and added the Scripture in Matthew that you mentioned. Our motivation should always be love and restoration.
Your wise comments are always appreciated.
Beckie — nice post. As a believer, as a husband, father and former coach, I always tried to use compassion when I noticed something wrong — I was not always successful, especially with my kids. I just told them – sometimes it was right and sometimes I could have used better judgment. Anyway, this is a good post with wonderful insight. Thanks — I’m glad my sons turned out to be Goy men — in spite of my mistakes.
Del, boy can I relate to what you have written. Many of these posts are written because I have learned a few things from past mistakes. Like you, I’m so glad that God took my follies/spiritual immaturity and used them for His glory! We are all still growing as long as we stay connected to the vine, right!? (John 15:5)
Oops — meant Godly men— silly spell check.
GREAT advice. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news but saying nothing is not the godly thing to do.
1ChristianVoice, thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes, sometimes real love is ‘tough love”. I hope this gives someone the courage to speak up and help a fellow believer.
A little late getting to this one, Backie, but another good job on another important topic. In my teaching and counseling work over the years, I’ve found that confrontation regarding unacceptable behavior is a major obstacle to reconciliation and restoration. It seems to be either avoided altogether or done in ways that only add to the damage. My experience indicates that most consider it more “Christian” relegate problem behaviors to the quiet secrecy of their prayer closet or the supposed confidence of their study group than to engage them as God directed. Hiding from potentially toxic behaviors and calling it compassion/love/tolerance/grace, etc. just allows the problem to grow. It also sidesteps an opportunity to display one of the most powerful applications of love that God ever ordained. Thanks again for your courageous work.
In His grace,
Ron, your comment covers this topic so well. Thanks for sharing your wisdom of walking closely with the Lord as well as counseling and ministry.
Love, peace, and grace to you dear brother!
Amen, Beckie. My husband preached a sermon a few weeks ago about Grace and Truth. Some believers lean more toward giving grace without a mutual responsibility and accountability to the truth. And sometimes we press in more to truth without considering the grace aspect in how we handle the situation. But God’s Word is a balance of both. We wouldn’t have grace if it weren’t for truth…Jesus himself.
Karen, that sermon sounds great. Thanks for sharing your husband’s words of wisdom about the balance between grace and truth. Amen!