Brothers, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness…
The walk in the Spirit, which eschews vain-glory and envy, further manifests itself in consideration for the erring. The sins of others become our concern, and we anxiously seek how we can best have them restored. Here, then, is a burden which Christians have not undertaken as earnestly and sympathetically as they ought to have done; it is the burden of sin which weighs on other people's hearts.
I. THE PREPARATION FOR DEALING WITH OTHER PEOPLE'S SINS. (Vers. 1-3) The idea of Paul here is that the Pharisaic temper is utterly incapable of the restoration of the erring. Thinking himself to be something, not realizing that he is in God's sight nothing, the Pharisee deceives himself, and so cannot become the guide of others. He will be severe through his self-satisfaction, hard and unsympathetic because he is ignorant of his own need and cannot consequently know the needs of others. His pride makes sympathy for the abased impossible, and he passes on in utter uselessness. But when the Lord makes us meek, when the Lord impresses upon us the fact of our own liability to temptation, when the Lord leads us to the sifting of our own work, and to a higher standard than mere comparison of it with that of others, when, in a word, we are led out of Pharisaic thankfulness that we are not as other men into Christian humility and self-abasement, - then are we in some measure fitted to take up the problem of other people's trespasses and to solve it. It is the "spiritual" who are to undertake the delicate work.
II. THE LAW OF CHRIST IS TO BE OUR METHOD. (Ver. 2.) Now, when we consider broadly the work of Christ, we find that it resolves itself exactly into this work of restoring the erring. This was the purpose of his life and death, to bear other people's burdens - the burdens of sin. Of course, Christ could deal with sin in a more radical way than we can. He was sinless; he was Divine; he could accept of the responsibilities of human sins and atone for them, as we cannot do. But we can surely have fellowship with him in concern about other people's spiritual state; we can sympathize with them, and perhaps encourage them to make us their confidantes, so that we may do something for their relief. We can also keep their restoration steady as a star before us, and follow the Master in leading them to renewed hope. In all these ways we may follow the law of Christ in dealing with delinquent brethren. The fact is that, because we cannot share in Christ's atoning work, we are tempted often to let sin lie outside our deliberate philanthropy. We are willing enough, perhaps, to help a fellow out of the burden of poverty, of outward misfortune; but to help him as a spiritual counsellor seems beyond our province. And yet we are not surely very thorough in our philanthropy if we do not try to touch and remove the deeper burden of heart-trouble by leading the erring to our elder Brothel'.
III. THERE WILL BE JOY AS WELL AS DISAPPOINTMENT UPON THIS PATH OF CHRISTIAN SYMPATHY. The heavenly world gets more joy out of the penitent prodigals than out of the unfallen beings (Luke 15:1-10). It is the same with us in our humble efforts after restoring erring brethren. What a joy it is to think that he has repented and got unburdened and restored! There is no joy of exactly the same pure intensity in all the world. There is music and dancing in our hearts as in the great Father's house. Earth and heaven are one (Luke 15:25). There will be a measure of disappointment. Souls over whom we have sighed and wept, for whose salvation we have longed, may disappoint us sadly; but we can assure ourselves that in this respect also we are in fellowship with God. Every impenitent soul must be a disappointment to the Supreme! We leave the mystery at his holy feet, and, notwithstanding disappointment, resolve in dependence on him to work bravely on until our day is done, persuaded that our tale of souls relieved shall be longer in the end than we have dared to dream. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.