"Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out." - Galatians 6: 1-10 (The Message)
Paul has a great "word to the wise" for us here. Go easy on others, but be tough on yourself. Often it seems that we do pretty much the opposite. At least if talk radio and similar forums are any indication, we can be pretty tough on others while not going in for much for self-examination.
Perhaps that's the reason for the very first words, "Live creatively." It takes a certain Christian creativity to alter the normal flow and extend mercy and forgiveness to others while examining ourselves honestly.
Still, Paul is not saying that we are to be indifferent to bad behavior or to sin on the part of others. There's a time and a place for bringing such matters to someone's attention. But why we bring them up makes a big difference in how we do it."If someone falls into sin," said Paul, "forgivingly restore him." The point is not to judge and dismiss someone. Nor is it to prove we are right and they are wrong. The point is restoration. Getting a relationship back. Fixing something that's broken. Restoring a sister or brother to community. And doing so in humility, because odds are good that you'll be needing forgiveness yourself all too soon. This is truly creative living.
Lord, grant me the grace to be gracious and merciful toward others, and the courage to honestly examine myself and amend my ways. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.