The Expository Files



Loving the Fallen

Galatians 6:1-3

The God we serve is a loving God. The characteristics of graciousness and compassion belong to our God, and because of this we continue to live and have a wonderful hope to sustain us in spite of our past sins. Without this gift from God's hand, we would be lost without hope or recourse.
But this rescue from the "wrath to come" (1 Thessalonians 1:10) does not come without cost and condition. Jesus paid the cost and bought for us the gift of salvation with His sacrifice. We must receive and retain His gift by an obedient faith. This series of articles deal with retaining God's gift when one has stumbled and fallen.

God does not stop loving the fallen. Nor should we. But though He is patient, He does require something of those who fall if they are to return to Him and avoid judgment. He is eager to relent of dispensing His righteous anger upon sinners, but requires a sincere repentance and a return to Him.
“And rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.” (Joel 2:13).

Consider now the role of those who are spiritually sound in the matter of reconciling the fallen to the Lord. Far be it from us to be like the brother of the "Prodigal son" who resented his brother's return to the father (Luke 15:11-32)! How unlike the Father's heart are the hearts of those who harbor similar resentments, or view the struggling or fallen with contempt rather than compassion.

You Who Are Spiritual
"Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted." (Galatians 6:1).

It is obviously a serious problem when a Christian is "caught up in any trespass". The idea of "any trespass" suggests to us that no matter how the trespass has effected me personally, that there needs to be a genuine, heartfelt desire that brings forth action on my part to see the fallen one reconciled to God. To harbor ill will because someone has hurt me deeply is neither righteous nor spiritual. We recall our Savior, showing once again the extent of the graciousness of God, praying for His tormentors even while suffering so at their hands (Luke 23:34). Seeing His example, can any of us plead that we have an excuse not to desire forgiveness for anyone who has fallen, whether his or her fall hurt us personally or not?

We also note that those who are truly spiritual seek to restore the lost. Spiritual men and women are not interested in comparing themselves to those who have fallen away so that they might compare favorably. The Scriptures say that those who insist on making such comparisons are "without understanding" (2 Corinthians 10:12).

We are to approach a fallen child of God is with a "spirit of gentleness". That means to have a mild demeanor. We are not to approach such a one with the intention of "beating him into submission". There is not to be any vain pride or self-seeking glory in our approach. The goal is restoration of the brother and the destruction of the transgressing behavior, not the destruction of both the transgressor and the transgression. The old saying is true: "Love the sinner; hate the sin".

Fulfilling Christ's Law
"Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2). Helping another to bear his burden without rancor or grumbling confirms our loyalty to Christ and His Law. If I am thinking I need to belligerently or abusively deal with a fallen brother who has transgressed the Law of Christ so everyone will know how much I respect Christ's Law and hate sin, then I have missed it altogether. It is when I approach the sinner with the compassionate mercy of Christ that I fulfill His Law. Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34).

The greatest source of peace is finding a way to be of service to others. Jesus repeatedly taught that service is the path to greatness in His kingdom. We are urged to "admonish the unruly" and "encourage the fainthearted". We are to "help the weak" and we are to "be patient with everyone"! We are to "always seek after that which is good for one another" (1 Thessalonians 5:14,15).

What Do You Think?
"For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself." (Galatians 6:3). This reminder suggests that if one is really spiritual in his self-concept, then he will be much more able to approach the fallen in the manner God requires. The spiritual brother knows and accepts his place in God's plan.

God commands our efforts in behalf of the fallen. We are also aware of our own shortcomings and so never undertake such a task without careful introspection; "each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted." Let us be sure and fulfill the Law of Christ as we make ourselves sensitive to the needs of others and seek to restore the fallen.


  By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 22.6; June 2015