I’ve heard it said that Christians are not perfect, only forgiven. It is true. Because we are not perfect, we all sometimes need help. In Galatians 2:11–21, Paul describes a time when he confronted Peter (called Cephas) about his hypocritical behavior toward Gentile Christians. Even spiritual giants need correction.
In today’s passage, Paul offers guidance for restoring a Christian who was “caught in a sin” (v. 1). The Greek text implies someone who was taken by surprise. It may suggest that the person being corrected did not yet recognize that what they were doing was a sin. Before they could be restored, someone had to point out the problem. Helping others be accountable is one aspect of the church’s larger obligation to “carry each other’s burdens” (v. 2). This is not a matter of Christians policing one another. It is about showing love.
However, we should not approach this ministry of restoration with the sort of hypervigilance that pounces on every weakness. We do not need to confront others for every little mistake they make. How, then, should we approach someone who has been overtaken by a sin? Here are some questions that can help you plan your approach: Is it a deliberate sin, or were they taken by surprise? What is my motive in approaching them about it? Has anyone else been affected? What do they need to know or do in order to make a recovery? What Scriptures will be of help to them?
>> Confronting sin requires speaking the truth with love, gentleness, and respect. If you know a fellow believer who is caught in sin, ask God to provide the right time and words to speak to them. The key to overcoming sin is to rely on the Spirit of God (vv. 7–9). Paul calls the Holy Spirit a “law” that sets us free (Rom. 8:2).
Keep us vigilant for sin in our midst, and teach us how to confront sin graciously, yet uncompromisingly. Give us wisdom to know how to correct, forgive, and restore the sinning member to full fellowship.