Checks and Balances

If a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”—Galatians 6:1 (NKJV)

God is a genius! Now, I realize that’s an understatement, because we know God is so much more than a genius. What He is cannot possibly be confined to a term we use to measure even the most remarkable men and women. But I use the word “genius” on purpose because I believe it will help us connect to the principle we see in the proceeding passage.

Let’s take a look at what it says. Paul instructs the churches of Galatia to restore those among them in the Church when they have sinned. He then adds that they are to do so with a gentle spirit. So far, so good, right? There’s nothing in any of this that doesn’t sound good to us. Of course, in theory, we want that kind of forgiveness to flow and define the Christian Church, right?

There’s just one problem. This forgiveness must be more than theory; it must be reality. And the reality is that when we get up close and personal with the sins of others, it can be much harder to forgive the way Paul prescribes here. In fact, the difficulty can often keep it from ever happening. The truth is, we love the idea of forgiveness, but actually doing it requires more than mere sentiment.

But notice how Paul adds another layer to this forgiveness: They are to also “consider themselves.” In other words, when it comes to forgiving the faults in others, remember where you stand. You’re not perfect; you’re not the standard for righteousness. You, too, are prone to weakness and falling. You, too, are going to be in a position of needing forgiveness at some point. With that in mind, forgiving others becomes a lot easier, because now there’s empathy from one sinner to another. 

Do you see the genius of God at work here? He gives a challenging command to His people, but embedded within them is something that actually enables them to fulfill that command. He takes a great weakness (our sinful nature) and turns it into a mighty strength by which we exercise something wonderful (forgiveness)!

God has established an ingenious system of checks and balances within the Church of Jesus Christ. On one hand is the imperative to forgive sin; on the other is the empathetic enablement to do so. We forgive others, humbly understanding our own need for forgiveness.

DIG: How is the genius of God framed in this passage?

DISCOVER: Why is it important to “consider yourself” when forgiving others?

DO: Think about who you need to forgive today and what you’re going to do about it.