---- — If you are like me, you have had a few clumsy moments in your life when you’ve fallen down. I remember a church work day several years ago when I was helping move items out of our annex, and accidentally tripped over a cardboard box and fell over on my back. While I was embarrassed at that moment, the good news is that before I could get to the point where I was ready to stand up again, two of my friends were right there and ready to help. The feeling of knowing that someone was there to help made the whole embarrassing moment easier to bear. Someone was on my side when I needed it. No judgment, just concern and the desire to do what they could for me. Thinking about that incident got my mind thinking this thought: What about a spiritual fall? Is that any different? The truth is that it’s not really all that different. When a Christian stumbles in their walk with Christ, they know it. They usually don’t need to be told they messed up. What they need is what I saw — two of my friends waiting with hands extended to help me get up on my feet again. When someone falls they need prayer and encouragement most of all.
Paul instructed the early church believers to do this in Galatians 6:1-5, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.” (NASB)When someone falls, they need to know that when they are ready to talk about it, you will be there to listen to them. If they are in denial, let them know you are concerned. Beating them around the head and shoulders with Bible verses should not be step one. If you think you are in a position to judge and hand out stern correction, look inside. If we are honest, we don’t have to dig too far down before we find things that we have to work on ourselves.
Is there a time for correction? Yes, but not usually first thing. The more mature a Christian becomes, the more they realize their level of daily, even hourly dependence on Jesus Christ just to get through the day. Christian singer and songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman has a song that speaks about living “the next five minutes,” and then starting over again.
If you want a taste of humility, ask God to give you a glimpse into your heart. There is a side that wants to serve the Savior you love. And there is a side that is at war with the very idea that you can’t do just whatever you please to do. It’s that side that seeks its own way constantly that needs to be reined in and kept under control. This dark side of your heart might startle you a bit.
Jesus Christ, who is our example, did not condemn the woman caught in adultery. In John, Chapter 8, we are told that Jesus was asked by the religious leaders if this woman is to be stoned for her sin, and Jesus answered in John 8:7, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Later in verses 10-11 we read that Jesus asked her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Jesus didn’t condone her sin, but He showed her compassion and love along with forgiveness. Who are we to stand in judgment where Jesus would not?The bad news is we will all stumble from time to time. The good news is that the “old man” the Bible speaks of representing that darker side of your heart is dying and will one day be removed as we enter Eternity. We are all sinners saved by grace. When someone falls, be there with a hand to help them up. Someday any one of us may be the one who has fallen in our spiritual life and needs someone to help us up as well.
Matt Skiles is senior pastor at Lebanon Rock Church.