In Acts 9:26-31, we see how the “church” originally reacted to Paul after his conversion. In this passage, he hasn’t yet taken the name of Paul (the first time Saul is called Paul is found in Acts 13:9, which shows us that Saul took upon himself the name of his first convert Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7)). The Disciples were afraid of Paul at the first and did not believe that he was a fellow believer. They were ready to discount Paul because of his past. They were all too eager to hold his past sins against him while at the same time enjoying forgiveness for their own Sin. We as Christians are called to ” be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Are you helping to restore others to the LORD or are you in the business of destroying those who need our help the most?
I believe that very few people would consider themselves a destroyer, but that is exactly what happens on a daily basis. People in general act like a lion hiding in the weeds, just waiting for the opportunity to “pounce” on their prey. They relish in the fact that someone has messed up, and can’t wait to point it out. By the way, Christians don’t have any business acting like the Devil (1 Peter 5:8). When someone who has been in Sin, comes back to the LORD, we should help to restore that person, not make them feel unworthy. That is not to say that it is okay to live in Sin or have an anything goes “policy.” In fact, just the opposite is true, we know according to Titus 2:11-14 that we are to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; because we have been redeemed from all iniquity, and have been purified unto the LORD Jesus Christ to be a peculiar people, zealous of good works. We see the perfect example of how we should react to a fellow believer that is involved in a sinful lifestyle in 1 Corinthians 5:11-13; but when a person makes the decision to confess and repent of their Sin, it is our responsibility to help them, as we see in 2 Corinthians 2:4-11. This passage is in relationship to the repentance of the same person that we read about in 1 Corinthians 5. When someone repents, it is our duty to accept them, and to help restore them. Failing to do so according to 2 Corinthians 2:11 will give Satan an advantage over us. We can easily become legalistic in our methods (Matthew 23:23). We need to be gracious and merciful with those that wish to be reconciled to God because we have been given the Ministry of reconciliation as seen In 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.
We are also commanded in Galatians 6:1-2 to restore those that are overtaken in a fault, and to be willing to bear the burdens of others; The scriptures indicate that if we don’t then, we are setting ourselves up to be tempted to sin. In fact, the unwillingness to follow the commands that we just received is in itself, Sin (James 4:17). Too many Churches have adopted the practice of enforcing unreasonable rules on everyone that they come into contact. In Romans 14:13, we are commanded not to judge one another, but to ensure that we are not putting a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in our brother’s way. This means that we should refrain from any practice or activity that would cause a weaker believer to sin, it also means that we are not to burden them down (Acts 15:10-11) with a bunch of rules and regulations, which will only make them feel unworthy.
We have to leave room for each person to develop a personal relationship with the Lord, and develop some personal convictions of their own. Obviously, we know that certain things are off limits (Ephesians 4:17-32, Colossians 3:5-10), but our personal relationship with the Lord will determine the majority of our actions.
Let’s be more like Barnabas, and help others to do right, and in so doing create an atmosphere of mercy and grace, that will enable us to grow the local church. In our next article, we will look at the 3 Marks of a Growing Church.
Was this article informative for you? Please share your comments or thoughts.