Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
Restoring brothers and sisters by using a “spirit of gentleness” is such winsome instruction.
We have choices in how to approach a brother or sister in the faith whose sin has become known.
- We can do nothing, avoiding the issue altogether.
- We can directly demand confession and repentance.
- We can take the middle ground of confronting the brother or sister with a spirit of gentleness.
If we start these hard conversations with raised voices and demands, there is a real risk that the brother or sister will quickly become defensive. A spirit of gentleness can the opposite effect, causing the brother or sister to focus on the offense.
Today aociety demands that we define our own truth, our own “right and wrong.” It is not wise to assume that a brother or sister understands that they have sinned against God. By starting with a spirit of gentleness we have the best opportunity to reason from Scripture, demonstrating that our brother or sister has truly sinned.
There are times when we need to be direct and assertive in confronting our brother or sister who has sinned. However, if we start with this kind of confrontation, we have no options in our confrontation. If we start with the spirit of gentleness, we can increase the intensity of the conversation if necessary.
It is so very important to restore brothers or sisters who have sinned. Restoration truly is the goal here. With that mind, it is so wise that we start such difficult conversations with a spirit of gentleness.
(A Second Look devotions are written for the congregations of the Ohio District LCMS.)