By Joyce Meyer
Well then, you who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you teach against stealing, do you steal (take what does not really belong to you)? You who say not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery [are you unchaste in action or in thought]? …You who boast in the Law, do you dishonor God by breaking the Law [by stealthily infringing upon or carelessly neglecting or openly breaking it]? For, as it is written, the name of God is maligned and blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you! —Romans 2:21–24
Paul’s words remind me of a saying I used to hear often: “Don’t do as I do—do as I say.” The people who give this admonition expect others to live according to rules that they themselves admittedly are not willing to follow.
This is where many young or insecure Christians find themselves. They see some church leaders or those in authority doing things they know aren’t right, and they think, Well, if they’re such great Christians and they can do that…it must be all right. This attitude can either lead them to do the same things or to turn away from God altogether.
We need to remember that God has called us to be responsible for our actions. God holds us accountable for every thought and every action—but our responsibility doesn’t stop there. We are also responsible to help lift up others when they fall.
Perhaps nowhere in the Bible is this concept more clearly defined than in Galatians 6:1-3. Paul laid down three important principles that Satan doesn’t want us to grasp. First, when we become aware that a sister or brother has fallen into sin, we are to do whatever we can to help lift up that person. Paul wrote, “If any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also. Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it]. For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another’s load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself.”
Even the best of us fail at times, but it is important to note that the word overtaken doesn’t mean a deliberate, intentional sin. It’s as if someone is walking down an icy sidewalk, slips, and falls. That’s how the Christian life works—nearly everyone slips sometimes.
What then should be our attitude when this happens? We should offer to help, of course. If someone slips on the ice, don’t you naturally rush over to help that person get up? That’s a Christian principle. But the enemy wants to make sure that you don’t do the right thing. He might even whisper in your ear, “Just don’t look in her direction. Ignore her. You are not obligated to help her get up. Why, you don’t even know her.” It’s easy to ignore people in need of help.
The Greek word translated restores was once a medical term used by a surgeon to describe medical procedures like removing a growth from a body or setting a broken arm. The goal is not to see that the person gets punished, but that the person gets healed.
The second point Paul made is that when we become aware someone has fallen, instead of pointing fingers and looking down on them, we should look at ourselves. The devil could have tempted us to do the same thing or something else just as bad…or even worse. We need to look with compassion on those who fall and remind ourselves, “Except for the grace of God, I could be there.”
The third thing is to push away pride in our own achievements. If we think we are more spiritual, we’re deceiving ourselves. Proverbs 16:18 gives this warning: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” We must not compare our achievements with others, but instead ask ourselves, Have I really done all that I could have done? Satan is thrilled when we compare ourselves with those who fail and see ourselves as being superior. But when we compare ourselves with the standards Jesus sets for us, we have no cause to be conceited or prideful. Instead, we can be humbly thankful that the Lord is at work in our lives.
Lord Jesus, please remind me to help those who have fallen. Help me to remember that, except for Your grace, I could be the one who failed. But most of all, help me to remember that You are always with me and will help me overcome the evil one. I give You praise for all these things. Amen.