“…Has been removed as Senior Pastor of…” I struggled to process the words I was hearing. This pastor was someone whom I had looked up to, learned from and listen to for years. How could this be possible?
It didn’t take long for the details to come out. This man had not been vigilant and in his own words, he had made the choice to turn to alcohol instead of Jesus in his struggles. He owned up to his actions and was in full agreement with the decision to remove him as senior pastor.
Many asked, “What will happen to this incredible church?” The media and its critics would make a field day of this situation. With the loss of such a high profile leader would the church survive?
If they built the church on the proper foundation, it will weather this storm.
This event was the greatest teaching opportunity this church had known. Traditionally a failure like this provided an opportunity to do what the church is best known for, killing its own wounded. They needed to put this wretched sinner down never to tarnish the name of Christ again.
But the Bible requires something entirely different of us.
Galatians 6:1 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.
The goal for this church was restoring their pastor. Not to the pastorate but to a proper relationship with Christ, his family and the church. They were fully aware of this great opportunity to teach – they practiced what they preached!
Many of us have someone in our lives in need of Galatians 6:1. How do we respond when a family member, a co-worker or a friend has fallen?
First we must realize:
I. We Are Not Without Sin
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
No matter how strong we think we are, life crushing sin is just a heartbeat away! The sin that destroyed years of ministry began when a man who let down his guard for a moment. A moment is all it took!
The starting point in this process is to check our hearts. Is there a weakness we need to confess or bring into the light? Is there an area where we need help or accountability?
We are incapable of bringing restoration in the life of another when our own hearts are not right.
II. Restoration Requires Forgiveness
We must forgive if the offense was personal. God has forgiven the sinning person, but restoration will not if we harbor bitterness or anger toward a person.
Our greatest reason to practice forgiveness is we may one day be the one needing forgiveness.
III. Restoration Requires Patience
While our hearts are anxious to see restoration happen quickly, it is not a quick process. Sometimes restoration requires years not days. Setbacks will occur. Are we ready to show loving kindness and patience as God has with us?
Consequences are difficult to work through and we need use care to show others the patience that God has shown us.
IV. Restoration Requires Grace
When we show grace we make the choice not to kill our own wounded.
Grace may mean calling the offender to see how they are doing, rather than gossiping about them on Facebook.
We can show grace by sitting next to them in church and not avoiding them as others do.
Grace may mean protecting them from the self-appointed Christian hit men who feel the need to enforce righteousness.
God has extended His full grace to all of us. No one needs it more than someone who has fallen in that grace. Even pastors!
No one has ever fallen beyond the reach of biblical truth. But for restoration to take place, we all have to do our part.
Who do you need to show – forgiveness, patience and grace to today? What steps do you need to take towards restoring someone who is fallen?
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