Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.
Effective parents know how to distinguish between their children’s wants and their children’s needs. When our two girls were little, if we had asked them what they wanted for dinner, one would have said Blue Bell Ice Cream, and the other would have asked for Pop-Tarts. Clearly there was a difference between what our young daughters wanted and what they needed.
It is the same way in our relationship with our heavenly Father. Not everything we want is what we really need, and not everything we need is something we want. When we become a Christian, the Holy Spirit begins to transform our wants into God’s desires for our lives. Yet as long as we live on planet Earth, there will always be a sense in which our wants and our needs will be out of alignment. And that is why in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus distinguished between our wants and our needs in three specific areas.
The first area Jesus dealt with is the subject of sinning Christians. We want to condemn sinning Christians, but Jesus says we need to restore sinning Christians. Look at Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” People today take this verse as a kind of King’s X that exempts them from any judgment about their lives. But is that what Jesus was saying?
Even a superficial reading of the Bible makes it obvious that Jesus was not prohibiting all judgments. For example, later in His sermon, Jesus warned, “Beware of the false prophets” (v. 15). If you are going to beware of false prophets, then you have to judge whether somebody is a false prophet, and Jesus provided specific criteria for making that judgment.
So then what did Jesus mean when He said, “Do not judge”? He was talking about making a final condemnation, saying that somebody is beyond God’s forgiveness. That is what the Pharisees loved to do. They would say, “So-and-so can never be right with God.” No, only God can make that kind of judgment.
On the other hand, one of the most loving things we can do is to help restore a sinning Christian to a right relationship with God. In Galatians 6:1, Paul wrote, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” When we see somebody whose life is being destroyed by sin, it is unloving to walk by and ignore their plight. We may want to ignore that person or condemn them–but we need to help restore them.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Straight Talk About Your Needs” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2022.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org