No Other Shoe

Galatians 6:1-2: “If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (NIV).

Observation: Paul emphasized how believers ought to relate to one another. He began by saying that gentle restoration should be extended to those caught in sin. The word restore suggests that we are to mend broken relationships as a fisherman works to mend torn nets, with a view to making things whole again.

Application: We’re not to crucify, we’re not to point accusing fingers, we’re not to humiliate nor punish but to mend, to restore what is broken, and to do so in a spirit of gentleness. No matter how much further we read, no other shoe will drop. We hope for one in vain. Our mind may be crowded with such thoughts as, “But what if they don’t agree? What if they don’t respond well? What if this gentle approach doesn’t work?”

The real motivation behind such questions is, “Then can I blast them?” See how quickly the heart tends toward the Sons of Thunder camp? Elsewhere we are indeed given backup strategy. Corrective discipline may need to be brought by “one or two others” and if they are unsuccessful, then “tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matthew 18:16–17). But notice this: even in such extreme circumstances, the goal is always reconciliation.

Ultimately, if my heart is purely motivated, I must come back to the simple instruction of Galatians, to deal in gentleness of spirit with a goal of mending brokenness. Chapter 6, verse 2 gives us a practical way to do that. “Carry each other’s burdens.” “But,” I say, “you can’t imagine how their sin has hurt me. They have gossiped and backbitten, they have plotted and connived and said all sorts of evil things about me.” Carry each other’s burdens. “But he is so unlovely. There’s certainly nothing attractive about him on the outside, and he’s got a mean streak a mile long on the inside.” Carry each other’s burdens. “But she’s got this ‘thing’ about her that is so limiting to my future success. We’ve grown apart, and now this other opportunity has come along.” Carry each other’s burdens.

Try this: sit with eyes closed and consider the most burdensome relationship currently in your life. Ask the Lord to bring a picture of that person before your mind’s eye. Now, quietly, spend just a few minutes asking whether you are carrying that person’s burdens. How would your day, and theirs, be different if you were to make a fresh commitment? In other words, if you were to obey Christ?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, the extent that this exercise is hard for me is a measure of my own distance from You, isn’t it? O Lord…

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