Today more than ever, it can be a challenge living a godly life. Temptations and distractions are everywhere. Because of this, there are instructions on how to deal with one who falls from grace.
This is just one way…
A Son Departs
In a certain parable, Jesus taught the disciples the lesson of a son who fell from grace. His heart lusted after the things of the world and temptation drew him out to experience them. After taking his inheritance, he went out and squandered his resources. He lived a sinful life, and ended up slave to an abusive person. Thus is the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.
Can you see how our desires can draw us into sin and enslave us? Be mindful that the bible says our own lusts draw us away and we fall victim to sin. Whether it happens by mistake or not, the results are the same.
“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” ~ James 1:14-15
The Son Returns
When the son finally came to himself, he returns home. His heart is full of sorrow, regret, and repentance. His father welcomed him even before he arrived. Why? Because the father’s heart is full of love and compassion for his wayward son.
This is the love of our heavenly Father for all His children. With few exceptions, He loves everyone and makes it easy to go to Him in genuine repentance. We should have the same heart toward one another.
How often does one who has fallen attempt to seek restoration, only to find judgment, ridicule, and closed doors? This is not God’s ideal, at least not when one returns in brokenness.
A Father’s Grace
This son saw the error of his ways and returned in repentance. And what happened? He did not get the chance to speak before his father smothered him with love and comfort.
His father spotted him far away. He dropped what he was doing and ran to meet him. He embraced him, and kissed him. He didn’t even bother to discuss the sins his son committed or even ask him why he did it! He just restored him and welcomed him home.
This is the way Christians should treat one another when one’s hurting and in pain. If they come in brokenness, love should greet them. Compassion should embrace them. And forgiveness should rest on them!
“So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” ~ Matthew 18:35
Where is the spirit of meekness?
“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.” ~ Galatians 6:1
For this reason, not everyone can receive and assist a fallen saint. It takes one who is spiritually minded and filled with compassion. It takes one who can protect and guard the integrity of the one returning.
Note the father presented his son as a son, and not as one who hurt him or betrayed his trust. That type of mindset can cause bitterness and a desire to cut off and shun the offender. Everyone does something to cause hurt or offense at some point. Nobody’s perfect, right?
The Fear of Disclosure
There are times when the church loses good people because of fear. It is not the fear of hell. It is the fear of a betrayal of trust or of embarrassment because they opened up to the wrong person. This is not always a layperson. Church leaders and even Pastors have been guilty of this.
The church should be a group of people where one can find refuge and safety. One should be able to open up to another Christian. And have the confidence that their sin will be prayed for, forgiven, and forgotten. Too often this is not the case.
When a transgression is spilled out and scattered like a tipped-over trash can, the hurt and pain of such indiscretion can devastate the transgressor. It can cause them to turn against the church and often, against God. This must be avoided at all costs!
Just Listen, Don’t Judge or Cast Away
The Church must learn to listen without being judgemental. Offer biblical guidance, not your opinion, but only if necessary and/or requested. Be the safe haven they need.
The task is to help restore the person back to right standing with God. Listen to the Holy Spirit. We are not here to be their accuser, judge, jury, and executioner! The son already knew what he did was wrong and that he should be punished.
Don’t cut people off, unless they refuse to turn from sin. Always keep the doors of love open to them. They should feel they have a home to return to.
God Cares for His Children
God does not want His children driven away. They need embracing as the father embraced his wayward son. They still belong to God!
God loves all of His children. Just like most parents, even the ones that misbehave sometimes are loved. We have no right to mistreat anyone or act like we are better than them. All have sinned and fallen short.
God loved us when we were worthy of death! He sacrificed His dear Son to bear our burden of sin and restore us. Can we do any less for one other?
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” ~ Galatians 6:2