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Lighten Up!

July 7, 2021

John Wesley, the great British evangelist, once crossed the Atlantic on his way to America with Mr. Olgethorpe, who was appointed by the King as the Governor of Savannah, Georgia. One day, Wesley heard a great commotion down in the governor's cabin. The fracas centered on the fact that Mr. Oglethorpe's servant, Grimaldi, had drunk the governor's favorite bottle of wine. Wesley, who stumbled upon the situation, learned that the Governor intended to have Grimaldi beaten on the deck, and then put on the first warship that came by, where he would be pressed into His Majesty's service. 

When Wesley pleaded for leniency, the governor replied, "I never forgive." Wesley immediately responded, "Your Honor, then I hope you never sin." The rebuke was persuasive and pointed, causing the Governor to stop in his tracks. With some humility he said to Wesley, "Alas, Sir, I do sin, and I have sinned in what I have said; for your sake he shall be forgiven; I trust he will never do the like again."

That story is a gripping reminder to go easy on those we find caught up in sin. Since none of us are without sin, we should not be so fast to cast the first stone (John 8:7). Yet, it is all too easy for us in a fit of anger or a wounded spirit to want to throw the book at someone, but in doing so, we can forget the one true book itself, the Bible. 

In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul reminds them and us, that we need to deal gently with those who have been caught up in sin: If a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:1-2

Paul encourages us to restore them with a gentle and humble spirit. We all know what it is to be tempted and we all know what it is to sin. The fallen are to be restored, not ignored, not deplored. Those who are spiritual, that is those who are walking in the Spirit, and bearing the fruit of the Spirit, must handle the bruised and broken with love, patience, and gentleness (Gal. 5:16-26). Those who are walking in the Spirit do not kick people when they are down. The word "restore" in our text speaks of resetting a broken bone. The sinning brother is likened to be a broken bone in the body of Christ, and as with broken bones, the process of restoration is often a painful and slow process which needs to be undertaken with compassion and care. The process of restoration is outlined for us in Matthew 18:15-17.

In dealing with the sinning brother, let us remember something F. B. Meyer once said, "When we see a brother or a sister in sin, we should remember that there are three things we do not know: first, we do not know how hard he or she tried not to sin; second, we do not know the power of the forces that assailed him or her; and third we do not know what we would have done in the same circumstances." So, lighten up on the fallen for their sake, your sake, and the Gospel's sake!