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by Margaret D. Mitchell
July 6, 2014
"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted." -Galatians 6:1
There is something about polishing silver that I find satisfying. I liken it to refinishing a favorite old piece of furniture or repurposing a favorite garment or a household item.
I know it’s the restoring, the perfecting quality that I enjoy, the immediate gratification of seeing something tarnished shine again with new life.
And God always comes to mind as I rub away the dullness and the stains, the inflictions of past use.
And I believe God sees us similarly…with much greater patience, love and depth of purpose.
The word restore in Galatians 6:1 transliterates into the Greek word katartízō, which means to properly adjust to full function. We’ve all probably heard of dysfunction. And many of us may struggle with some measure of dysfunction in at least one area of our lives on some level. Certainly, we have seen those around us struggle—probably more easily than we can see our own struggles.
Sometimes, we may be prone to offer our own “friendly” advice to those around us. But, in doing so, we may be voicing our personal opinion, over God’s heart or perspective. We must be careful to not project our own issues and pain onto others, inadvertently adding insult to injury.
So how can we help restore someone God’s way?
God restores in many ways, and all involve The Holy Spirit…
Through a Saint – As God’s yielded vessels, the only way we can help restore anyone is to reach out and touch them as led by The Holy Spirit, who gives us Words of encouragement, prayer, knowledge and wisdom by His grace, from His perspective, not ours. We are to pray God’s will (Matthew 6:10) from our spirit and mind, according to 1 Corinthians 14:14-16 and Ephesians 6:18. We can also love others through service to them—with practical deeds of kindness—in a way they are willing to receive. (We must always respect their boundaries. God Himself honors their will.)
With the Washing of the Word – The Word of God is purifying and sanctifying, according to Ephesians 5:26 and John 17:17. John 15:3 tells us that God’s Words are directive and powerful in nature: "You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you." God’s Word can be written as in the Holy Bible or in a Christian book or spoken to us as referred to in 1 Peter 1:25 and Romans 10:17 as “rhéma” (Greek), the living voice of God. Remember, Jesus is the Word; His Word is truth; and His truth sets us free (John 8:32).
Supernatural Deliverance – In Matthew 6:13, Jesus tells us to pray “deliver us from evil.” Deliverance from evil’s influence has to happen for restoration to occur. God can deliver a person from evil strongholds in an instant or over time after prayer has weakened evil’s grip. I’ve seen it happen both ways. It is the powerful presence of God that delivers people from evil.
By Crossing Over – From death to life eternal. Our eternal Promised Land is a place of full restoration, which has been redeemed (paid for) on our behalf by Jesus, Our Lord and Savior.
A Word of Caution…
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary has a few things to say about reaching out to others:
"It is very common for a man to look upon himself as wiser and better than other men, and as fit to dictate to them. Such a one deceives himself; by pretending to what he has not, he puts a cheat upon himself, and sooner or later will find the sad effects. This will never gain esteem, either with God or men. Everyone is advised to prove [their] own work. The better we know our own hearts and ways, the less shall we despise others, and the more be disposed to help them under infirmities and afflictions."
When co-laboring with God to restore others, it’s easy for our carnal nature to puff up. I have witnessed a few ways to humble myself…
Declare Frequently – “I can do nothing apart from You, Lord; but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (John 15:5, Phil 4:13).
Readily Address Our Own Issues – We are deceived if we think our souls are perfect. When we get saved by Jesus, we receive a new spirit; but our souls (mind, heart, will) need to be sanctified—a lifelong process that is led by Our Helper, The Holy Spirit.
Praise God – Every time you witness God answer your prayers, praise Him. When you are waiting for Him to answer your prayers, praise Him. Take time to study (not just read) His Word. Take time to simply adore Him. For years, I have enjoyed sitting and have coffee alone with God for hours on a day off. There’s no better way to unwind.
Confess Our Sins – Confession and forgiveness helps keep our hearts tender towards God. Romans 2:3 tells me that whatever sin I see others do, I’ve done or will do. I’ve learned to quickly confess their sins as though they are my own…because they are! (This is really humbling.)
By now, you can probably see that one of the great beauties of restoration is that when we lend our hearts to restore others, God restores us. It’s a double victory. So trust God to lead and to speak to you as you enjoy the journey of restoration in fellowship with others (2 Corin 9:3, Heb 13:16). And may the hearts of the saints be refreshed through you (Phil 1:6). In the Name of Jesus.