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The Fundamentals of Forgiveness - Part 9 (Galatians 6:1-5)

In this text, we are instructed to look to the attitudes and behaviors we have when dealing with a repentant offender.  This is a very important point because it is not about forgiving in a merely formal sense, but that our heart condition be right.  Verse one tells you to restore with a spirit of gentleness.  In the immediate context, the apostle is referring to a specific kind of offense if someone "is overtaken in any trespass".  That is, he is not speaking of intentional or malicious offences.  Those offences need to be handled differently (I have dealt with this in previous ministries).  But if a fellowship is broken by an inadvertent or careless word or deed then you, as one who is guided guided by the Holy Spirit and are thus "spiritual" are to "restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness."  The effect of the offence is like a broken or dislocated bone.  (Note that it is the one committing the offence which is the one with the broken bone.)  A good physician will attempt to restore the bone in the least painful and violent manner.  So it is when we deal with one another regarding these inadvertent or careless words or deeds.  There are implications for the one offended.  The text tells you to "consider yourself" because you are also liable to be tempted.  It is possible that you can sin against the one who offended if you lash out in rage or seek revenge instead of seeking to restore with meekness.  The apostle is provided you with a clear application of the doctrine of the fruit of the Spirit.  Here we find  love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control being directly applied to how you should respond to these occasions.  And yes, it will cost you something.  You will not be able to indulge your native tenancy toward such things as anger, hatred, etc.  Rather, you are called upon to bear a burden.
Verses 2 and 3 refer to our mutual duty to bear one another's burdens.  We are called to bear patiently with one another's sins, and this is what we are doing when we seek godly restoration according to godly means.  We are all weak and we are all subject to clumsy and ignorant acts of hurt to those we love.  It is a supreme act of love to help take up that burden and, setting aside pride, help someone who has hurt us.  In doing so, you "fulfill the law of Christ."  John 13:34 and 35 reads, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."  If you want to do that which is pleasing in the sight of the Lord, it is not in the sacrifices and ceremonies of the Law and it is not in such things as the false teachers in Galatia were teaching.  Rather, it is in fulfilling this law of love.  Id doing so, you also demonstrate that you understand the harsh truth; you are also a sinner. saved by grace and you are not self deceived.  Reconciliation has been accomplished by Christ and you are the unworthy recipient of that blessing.  It was all of grace and you did not add anything.  So if, when someone commits an inadvertent offence against you, you adopt an air of superior holiness and greater maturity, you are self-deceived.  The apostle is striving to warn you from such an act of thanklessness pride.
Lastly, in verses 4 and 5, you are exhorted to "examine your own work."  To put is another way, the apostle is telling you to put first things first.  Before you seek to deal with this kind of offence, look to your own heart and be less concerned about what everyone else is doing and saying -  including the one who committed the offence.  You have an obligation before God to make sure your seeking a godly resolution according to godly means and with a godly disposition of heart.  It you are seeking to exalt yourself at the expense of the other one, not only will the reconciliation be much more difficult, but you are not seeking God's glory.  Paul tells you that if you do so, you can "rejoice" in yourself.  The apostle could boldly assert that he had behaved in Corinth in such a way that he had a clear conscience.  II Cor. 1:12 says, "For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you."  That is, you can have peace regardless of how the attempted restoration proceeds."  (By the way, this is also an act of God's grace in you.)  Each of you has his own burden to bear.  (Verse 6)  You will have to give an account of your dealings before the Judge of All.  This is not a load which is shared.  You do not have to answer based upon some standard which is based upon what others do.  that is to fall into the trap of the Pharisee.  "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust??, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'" (Luke 18:10-12)  We know which one was justified.
So to review:  1) Beware of your own natural desire to assume a position of superiority when dealing with those who have been overtaken in a trespass.  2) Come along side and seek to gently restore what is out of place.  3) Be sure to do so with a spirit of meekness, knowing that you yourself are subject to the same weaknesses and temptations.  4) Be sure to look to your own responsibilities.  You must answer for how you handle things.  5) And let us all be sure to seek restoration and reconciliation with one another as Christ has also pursued restoration and reconciliation for us.
All For Him,
Pastor Schlegel

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