In Galatians 6:1 (NLT), we read, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.”
How do you do that? How do you restore someone?
Let me begin by identifying something that doesn’t work:
I say this because years ago I discovered that a dear sister in the Lord had a problem with alcohol—a serious problem with alcohol. I was shocked. I was angry. I hated seeing what alcohol was doing to this person. It was destroying her life. I was angry—not so much at her, but at this thing that was tearing her life to pieces.
I was angry; she knew it; I made no attempt to hide it.
Do you know how she responded to my “righteous” anger?
She drank more. She got drunk more often. More than once, I had to call 911 because she was so drunk I didn’t think she would survive. I took her to the emergency room. I took her to detox. Horrible things happened in her life because of alcohol. I begged her to get help, but she refused. I spent hours and hours trying to help her, and I was rewarded with a string of profanities, and a request that I get out of her life.
Thank God I’m married to someone who has much more sense than I do because Kim took a very different tack. She listened. She empathized. She cared.
As I started learning from my wife, I gradually started changing my approach. One day Kim and I were sitting in this person’s living room, and she confessed to us, “I messed up.” She explained how she went on a binge the day before, and ended up horribly drunk.
“It’s okay,” I heard myself saying. “We all do crazy things sometimes.”
I don’t know if I can explain to you what happened at that moment, but something changed. We weren’t enemies any more. I felt that our relationship mended, that we were all now on the same team.
And I noticed that the more I took Kim’s approach, the more the drinking faded into the background. It didn’t disappear altogether, but it got much better.
I’d like to take a couple posts and talk about what it means to restore someone who has been overcome by a sin.
If you have any thought, comments, questions, please chime in.