In reading these verses this morning I had this thought: ‘so often that is what we, the church (Christ’s body of believers) does to one another. We end up being consumed one of another in so many varied ways rather than lovingly restoring one another back into fellowship with Christ. We (my finger is pointing at myself) harshly judge and push one another over the edge into a pit that often could have been avoided with patient love.’ This thought brought to mind a quote from a recent study in James entitled, Stretch My Faith Lord. “We need the tenderness of James for our brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone astray...Biblical Christianity has a message of divine love for the unsaved, but no stronger appeal will be made to those who are outside of Christ than to see Christians loving and restoring their own who have fallen. This is indeed the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
What says more to the unsaved, those outside of Christ, than seeing God’s true love demonstrated to God’s own people (those inside Christ) who for whatever reasons have become stragglers or casualties along this road called life. If we who have experienced God’s love do not reach out a helping hand of love to those who are of our own family, what would make the unsaved desire to be a part of the family? What is family to be but a demonstration of God’s love? Isn’t an aspect of love having a confidence, a security that no matter what happens, the family is there to love them in good times, bad times and even to include times of stumbling, loosing your way, falling, or even ending up in some pit of oppression, perhaps maybe even of their own doing.
How far does love go to restore such a brother? How far did God go to restore us to Himself?
Yet, we, his restored ones set limits for ourselves as to how far we will go for a fallen brother. We’ll do this and this then if they don’t respond thusly, we wash our hands and leave them to God to deal with. After all, we don’t want to get in the way of the Holy Spirit’s working in them. We don’t want to mar our testimony if they somehow bring reproach to us while we are trying to help them. We are God’s people and have a standard to maintain. Did not Christ himself suffer reproach, shame, humiliation, and yes, the loss of reputation? You say, ‘Yes, but Christ did that for the lost to save them from hell.’ But, what message is portrayed to the unsaved if we are not willing to risk getting a little dirty while helping to pull one of our own out of a pit of whatever sort it might happen to be. Should not the love of the brethren be so demonstrated to one another that those on the outside looking in want to be part of such a loving family? What better way to do that than to help the brothers and sisters who are down, who are opposing themselves, who are snared by the devil taken captive by him? Sadly, there are many casualties of brothers and sisters in Christ around us who have become stumbling blocks to those not in Christ, turning them away from salvation.
God has a plan, we are it. How far are we willing to go to restore a family member, a brother in Christ?
Thankfully, though we the church, the family of God, are His first line of defense to help the fallen brethren against the enemy (be it themselves or Satan) He has a second line of defense when we fail. In his love and goodness God has sent His Holy Spirit, who indwells the believer and continually works in love to point them back to Christ at every opportunity. The Holy Spirit is patient and long suffering in the love God desires for us to have toward one another. Which love is his means to draw those outside the family into His family.
As for those outside the family, the unbeliever, when we fail in this love to one another, the Holy Spirit is there for them as well wooing them, drawing them to the Father (John 6:44) for ‘the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’ II Peter 3:9
Too often, many of us have relinquished our responsibility in God’s plan for the saved and unsaved alike to the working of the Holy Spirit rather than through the outpouring of God’s love through us, His children, for others. It is hard to love as God loves.
“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:34-35
How far does our love go?
I pray you rest in God’s grace and peace
to sustain you one day at a time. God Bless