“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).
The word translated “fault” in the above verse comes from a Greek word which means “a trespass, a sin, a slip, a lapse.” There are two different kinds of responses to individuals who have sinned, whether the sin was one of wilful intent or an accidental slip. Unfortunately, both are very common. Sometimes the same individual will utilize both of them at different times with different people.
The first type of response is that of preying upon the one who has sinned. Sometimes there are those people who seem to be just waiting for a brother or sister to make a mistake, and once that happens they will not let it go. The offense could be easily fixed, readily repented, and diligently remedied, but these individuals will never let it go. They will always remember and quickly remind others of the mistakes made in the past, forever holding it over the head of the offender. There is no forgiveness in the heart of such people, only malice and wicked intent to shame and degrade a brother or sister who has made mistakes. Such people are described in Scripture as, “backbiters” (Rom. 1:30); those who “sow discord among brethren” (Pro. 6:19); and a “wicked servant” (Mat. 18:21-35). People that respond in this manner are a shame to the body of Christ and should be avoided (Rom. 16:17).
On the other hand there are those that will respond to the aforementioned situation with an attitude of love, care, concern, and prayer. When they learn of an individual’s offense they immediately and diligently pray for that individual, striving to help in any way they can. These individuals take their pleasure, not in the fall of a brother or sister, but in their return. They are the first to rejoice at the time of repentance and they are the greatest asset the brotherhood has. They remember and utilize the necessity of meekness, humility, and mercy; understanding the time will come when they will be the one in need of forgiveness. They understand the importance of that soul returning to a right relationship with God (Jam. 5:19-20), and their greatest desire is that the soul in question might be saved (Rom. 10:1).
Which type of respondent are you? It is possible for us to respond one way to the person with which we are extremely close, but the opposite way toward the one with whom we have had disagreements in the past. Yet, if we truly have the love of Christ, the grace of God, and the mercy of salvation living within us, the only response we can give is the latter one. Let us always remember our greatest objective: to see mankind right in the sight of God; and may we never respond in a way that is detrimental to that goal.